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A Book of Instruction for Trappers 

About These and Other 

Home=Made Traps 

Edited hy 





Published by 

A. R. HABcDING, Publisher 

106 Walnut Street 

St. Louis, Mo. 

Copyright 1907 



I. Building Deadfalls 17 

II. Bear and Coon Deadfall 31 

III. Otter Deadfall 36 

IV. Marten Deadfall 41 

V. Stone Deadfall 51 

VI. The Bear Pen 63 

VII. Portable Traps '^'2 

VIII. Some Triggers 82 

IX. Trip Triggers 88 

X. How to Set 96 

XI. When TO Build 102 

XII. Where to Build 106 

XIII. The Proper Bait 113 

XIV. Traps Knocked Off 117 

XV. Spring Pole Snare 120 

XVI. Trail Set Snare 129 

XVII. Bait Set Snare 138 

XVIII. The Box Trap 144 

XIX. The Coop Trap 14V 

XX. The Pit Trap 152 

XXI. Number of Traps 155 


8 Contents. 


XXII. When TO Trap 159 

XXIII. Season's Catch 163 

XXIV. General Information 168 

XXV. Skinning and Stretching 175 

XXVI. Handling and Grading 202 

XXVII. From Animal to Market 211 

XXVIII. Steel Traps 219 



A Good Deadfall Frontispiece. 

The Pole Deadfall 19 

Small Animal Fall 21 

The Pinch Head 24 

Board or Pole Trap • 26 

Bait Set Deadfall 27 

Trail Set Deadfall 29 

Bear or Coon Deadfall 32 

Otter Deadfall 38 

Marten Deadfall 42 

Marten Trap Triggers 44 

Another Marten Deadfall 45 

High Built Marten Deadfall 47 

Tree Deadfall 48 

More Marten Trap Triggers 49 

Flat Stone Trap 52 

Stone Deadfall Triggers 54 

The Invitation — Skunk 57 

Killed Without Scenting 59 

Right and Wrong Way 61 

Bear Pen Trap 64 


10 Llst of Illustrations. 


Bear Entering Pen 68 

Den Set Deadfall 73 

Portable Wooden Trap 75 

The Block Trap 78 

The Nox-Em-All Deadfall 79 

Illinois Trapper's Triggers 84 

Trip Triggers 85 

Animal Entering Trip Deadfall 89 

Trip Trigger Fall 91 

Canadian Trip Fall 93 

The Turn Trigger 94 

Two Piece Trigger Trap 98 

String and Trigger Trap 100 

Trail or Den Trap ■ 110 

Spring Pole and Snare 121 

Small Game Snare 122 

Wire or Twine Snare 123 

Snare Loop 124 

Path Set Snare 125 

Trip Pan or Plate 130 

Double Trail Set 132 

Trail Set Snares 134 

Path Snare 136 

Rat Runway Snare 139 

Underground Rat Runway 139 

List of Illustrations. 11 


Runway and Cubby Set 139 

Log Set Snare 139 

Cow Path Snare 139 

Lifting Pole Snare 140 

Bait Set Snare 141 

The Box Trap 145 

The Coop Trap ^ 150 

The Pit Trap 153 

A Good Catcher 171 

Single and Three Board Stretcher 176 

Some Stretching Patterns 180 

Dakota Trappers Method 182 

Holder for Skinning 183 

Wire Coon Method 185 

Wire and Twig Coon Method 187 

Size of Stretching Boards 193 

Pole Stretchers 198 

Fleshing Board 212 

Stretching Frame 213 

Skin on Stretcher 215 

Hoop Stretcher 217 

Small Steel Traps 220 

No. 81 or Web Jaw Trap 221 

No. 91 or Double Jaw Trap 222 

Mink and Fox Traps 223 

12 List of Illustrations. 


Otter and Beaver Traps 224 

Otter Traps with Teeth 225 

Otter Trap without Teeth 226 

Offset Jaw Beaver I rap 227 

Clutch Detachable Trap 227 

Newhouse Wolf Trap 228 

Small Bear Trap 229 

Small Bear Trap with Offset Jaw 229 

Black Bear Trap 230 

Regular Bear Trap with Offset Jaws 230 

Grizzly Bear Trap 231 

Bear Chain Clev's 231 

Steel Trap Setting Clamp 232 

Ce^ ^ ^^^z^..^^^. 


Scattered from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf 
of Mexico and from the Atlantic to the Pacific 
Ocean are thousands of trappers who use dead- 
falls, snares and other home-made traps, but 
within this vast territory there are many thou- 
sand who know little or nothing of them. 

The best and most successful trappers are 
those of extended experience. Building dead- 
falls and constructing snares, as told on the fol- 
lowing pages, will be of value to trappers 
located where material — saplings, poles, boards, 
rocks, etc. — is to be had for constructing. The 
many traps described cannot all be used to 
advantage in any section, but some of them can. 

More than sixty illustrations are used to 
enable the beginner to better understand the 
constructing and workings of home-made traps. 
The illustrations are mainly furnished by the 
"old timers." 

Chapters on Skinning and Stretching, Hand- 
ling and Grading are added for the correct 
handling of skins and furs adds largely to their 
commercial value. 

A. R. Harding. 






During the centuries that trapping has been 
carried on, not only in America, but thruout the 
entire world, various kinds of traps and snares 
have been in use and taken by all classes of 
trappers and in all sections the home-made traps 
are of great numbers. The number of furs 
caught each year is large. 

The above was said by a trapper some years 
ago who has spent upwards of forty years in 
the forests and is well acquainted with traps, 
trappers and fur-bearing animals. Whether the 
statement is true or not, matters l)ut little, altho 
one thing is certain and that is that many of the 
men who have spent years in trapping and have 
been successful use the deadfalls and snares as 
well as steel traps. 

Another trapper says : "In my opinion 
trapping is an art and any trapper that is not 
able to make and set a deadfall, when occasion 
demands, does not belong to the profession. I 


18 Deadfalls and Snares. 

will give a few of the many reasons why dead 
falls are good. 

1. There is no weight to carry. 

2. Many of the best trappers use them. 

3. It requires no capital to set a line o: 

4. There is no loss of traps by trap thieves 
but the fur is in as mucli danger. 

5. Deadfalls do not mangle animals oi 
injure their fur. 

6. It is a humane way of killing animals. 

7. There is no loss by animals twisting ofl 
a foot or leg and getting away. 

8. Animals are killed outright, having nr 
chance to warn others of their kind by theii 
cries from being caught. 

9. Trappers always have the necessary out 
fit (axe and knife) with them to make and set a 
deadfall that will kill the largest animals. 

10. The largest deadfalls can be made U 
spring easy and catch small game if required. 

11. Deadfalls will kill skunk without leav 
ing any scent. 

12. Deadfalls are cheap and trappers 
should be familiar with them. 

It is a safe proposition, however, that nol 
one-half of the trappers of today can buikl a 
deadfall properly or know how to make snares 
and many of them have not so much as seen one 

Building Deadfalls. 


First a little pen about a foot square is built 
of stones, chunks, or by driving stakes close to- 
gether, leaving one side open. The stakes should 
be cut about thirty inches long and driven into 
the ground some fourteen inches, leaving six- 
teen or thereabout above the ground. Of course 
if the earth is' very solid, stakes need not be so 

''^^'^'m^W^i'T^^'" ■ ''-'^^'^^ 



long, but should be so driven that only about 
sixteen inches remain above ground. A sap- 
ling say four inches in diameter and four feet 
long is laid across the end that is open. A sap- 
ling that is four, five or six inches in diameter, 
owing to what you are trapping for, and about 
twelve feet long, is now cut for the "fall." 
Stakes are set so that this pole or fall will play 

20 Dkadfalls axi> Snares. 

over the short pole on the jironiid. These staples 
shouhl be driven in pairs; two about eifihteen 
inches from the end; two about fourteen farther 
back. (See illustration.) 

The small end of the ])ole should be split and 
a small but stout stake driven firmly thru it 
so there will be no danger of the pole turning 
and ''goinii <>'t'' «f its own accord. The trap is 
set by placing the prop (which is only seven 
inches in length and half an inch thru) between 
the to]) log and the short one on the ground, to 
which is attached the long trigger, which is only 
a stick about the size of the prop, but about 
twice as long, the baited end of which extends 
back into the little pen. 

The bait may consist of a piece of chicken, 
rabbit or any tough bit of meat so long as it 
is fresh and the bloodier the better. An animal 
on scenting the bait will reach into the trap — 
the top of the ])en having been carefully cov- 
ered over — between the logs, ^^'heu the ani- 
mal seizes the bait the long trigger is pulled off 
of the ujjright prop and down comes the fall, 
killing the animal by its weight. Skunk, coon, 
opossum, mink and in fact nearly all kinds of 
animals are easily caught in this trap. The fox 
is an exception, as it is rather hard to catch 
them in deadfalls. 

The more care that vou take to build the 

Building Deadfalls. 


pen tight and strong, the less liable is some ani- 
mal to tear it down and get bait from the out- 
side; also if you will cover the pen with leaves, 
grass, sticks, etc., animals will not be so shy of 
the trap. The triggers are very simple, the long 
one being placed on top of the upright, or short 
one. The long triggers should have a short 



prong left or a nail driven in it to prevent the 
game from getting the bait off too easy. If you 
find it hard to get saplings the right size for a 
fall, and are too light, they can be weighted 
with a pole laid on the "fall." 

I will try and give directions and drawing 
of deadfalls which I have used to some extent 
for years, writes a ]Maine trapper, and can say 

22 Deadfalls and Snakes. 

that most all animals cau be captured in them 
as shown in illustration. You Avill see the dead- 
fall is construeted of stakes and rocks and i.s 
made as follows: Select a place where there 
is orame; you need an axe, some nails, also 
strong string, a pole four inches or more in 
diameter. Notice the cut No. 1 being the drop 
pole which should be about six to seven feet 
long. Xo. 2 is the trip stick, Xo. 3 is string 
tied to pole and trip stick, Xo, 4 is the stakes 
for holding up the weight, Xo. 5 is the small 
stakes driven around in the shape of letter U, 
should be one foot wide and two feet long. Xo. 
6 is the rocks, X'o. 7 is the bait. 

X'ow this is a great trap for taking skunk 
and is soon built where there are small saplings 
and rocks. This trap is also used for mink and 


* * * 

The trapper's success depends entirely upon 
his skill and no one can expect the best returns 
unless his work is skillfully done. Do not 
atterajjt to make that deadfall unless you are 
certain that you can make it right and do not 
leave it till you are certain that it could not be 
any better made. I have seen deadfalls so poorly 
made and improperly set that they would make 
angels weep, neither were they located where 
game was apt to travel. The deadfall if made 

Building Deadfalls. 


right and loiaretl where eauie fre«iiieius is ijiiire 

Another thiuii'. boys, thiuk out every little 
plau before yon attempt it. If so and so sets 
his ti'ai>s one way, see if you can't iniproTe on 
his plan and make it a little better. Do not 
rush blindly into any new scheme, l.ut look at 
it on all sides and make yourself well acquainted 
with the merits and drawbacks of it. Make 
good use of your brains, for the animal iustinet 
is its only i>roteetion and it is only by making 
good use of y«)ur reasoni-ng powers that you can 
fool hiuL Ex]>erience may cost money soim^ 
tinu^s and loss of patience and temper, but in 
my estimatiou it is the trapiHM*'s best capital. 
An c»ld trapper who has a couple of traps and 
lots of experience will catch more fur than the 
greenhorn with a (•omi)lete outtit. Knowledge 
is iH)wer in tra]»ping as in all other trades. 

This is the old reliable '•i>inch-head." The 
picture does not show the cover, so I will de 
scribe it. (ict sonu' short ]>ieces of board or 
short ]>oles and lay them on the stones in the 
ba«k ]>art of the ]»en and on the raised stick in 
front. Lay them dose together so the animal 
cannot crawl in at the top. Then get some 
heavy stones and lay them on the cover to 
weight down and tln(»w some dead weeds and 
grass over thi' pen and triggers and your trap 


1)i:ai)Faij,s and Snakes. 

is complete. When the animal tries to enter 
and sets off the trap bj pressinji; ajj:Jiiust the 
long trigger in front, he brings the weighted 
])ole down in the middle of his back, which soon 
stops his earthly career. 

This deadfall can also be used at runways 
without bait. No pen or bait is required. The 
game will be caught coming from either direc- 


tion. The trap is '^'thrown" by the trigger or 
pushing against it when passing thru. During 
snowstorms the trap requires considerable at- 
tention to keep in perfect working order, but at 
other times is always in order when placed at 
runways where it is used without bait. 

The trap can also be used at dens without 
bait with success. If used with bait it should 
be placed a few feet from the den or near any 
place frequented b^^ the animal or animals you 
expect to catch. 

Of course we all admit the steel trap is more 

Building Deadfalls. 25 

convenient and up-to-date, says a New Hamp- 
shire trapi)er. Yon can make your sets faster 
and can change the steel trap from place to 
place; of course, the deadfall you cannot. But 
all this does not sionify the deadfall is no good; 
they are good and when mink trapping the dead- 
fall is good. To the trapper who traps in the 
same locality every year, when his deadfalls are 
once built it is onlj- a few minutes' work to put 
them in shape, then he has got a trap for the 

I enclose a diagram of a deadfall (called 
here Log Trap) which, when properly made and 
baited, there is no such a mink catcher in the 
trap line yet been devised. This trap requires 
about an hour to make and for tools a camp 
hatchet and a good strong jackknife, also a 
piece of strong string, which all trappers carry. 

This trap should be about fifteen inches wide 
with a pen built with sticks or pieces of boards 
driven in the ground. (See diagram.) The 
jaws of this trap consist of two pieces of board 
three inches wide and about three and a half 
feet long, resting edgeways one on the other, 
held firmly by four posts driven in the ground. 
The top board or drop should move easily up 
and down before weights are put on. The tred- 
dle should be set three inches inside level with 
the top of bottom board. This is a round stick 



about tlii'cc-fourtlis inch thru, resting? aj^ainst 
two ])ei;s (Irivcii in the oround. (See diac;Taiii.) 
Tlie lever shonkl be the same in size. Now imt 
Yonr stont strin"' aronnd top l)Dard. Then set, 
pass lever thrn the strini;- over the cross piece 


and latch it in front of the treddle. Then put 
on weights and adjust to spring, heavy or light 
as desired. This trap should be set around old 
dams or log jams by the brook, baited with fish, 
muskrat, rabbit or chicken. 

I herewith enclose a drawing of a deadfall 

Building Deadfalls. 


that I use for everything- up to bear, writes a 
Rocky Mountaiu trapper, I liate to acknowl- 
edge that I have used it to get "k)pe" meat with, 
because I sometimes believe in firing as few 
shots as I can in some parts of the Mountains. 


Drawing Xo. 1 shows it used for bait; a 
snare can be used on it at tlu^ same time by 
putting the drop or weight Avhere it isn't liable 
to fall on the animal. Put tlie weight on the 

28 Deadfalls and Snares. 

other side of tree or make it fall with the ani- 
mal to one side. In this ease a pole must be 
strictly used. A good sized rock is all right for 
small animals. The closer spikes 1 and 2 are 
together and the longer the tugger end on bot- 
tom, the easier it will pull off. 

Fig. 1. — Spike driven in tree one-half inch 
deeper than spike No. 2 (Fig. No. 2) to allow 
for notch. 

3 — Bait on end of trigger. 

4 — Heavy rock or log. 

5 — Wire, fine soft steel. 

6 — Trigger with notch cut in it. 

7 — Notch cut in trigger Fig G. Spike No. 2 
must have head cut off and pounded flat on end. 

In setting it across a trail a peg must be 
driven in the ground. In this i>eg the spikes are 
driven instead of tree as in drawing No. 1. The 
end of brush stick in between peg and trigger 
end and when an animal comes either way it 
will knock the brush and it knocks out the 
trigger. Good, soft steel wire should be used 
In setting this deadfall along river bank a stout 
stick can be driven in linnk and hang out ove^* 
water. This stick will take the place of a limb 
on tree. One end of a pole held in a slanting 
])0siti()n by weighing one end down with a rock 
will do the same as limb on tree. If a tree is 
handy and no limb, lean a stout pole up against 

Building Deadfalls. 


the tree and cut notches in it for wire to work 

1 — Trail. 

2 — Log. 

3 — Trigger same as for bait on top deadfall 


4 — Stake driven in ground with spikes 
driven in it same as above in tree. 

5 — Spikes same as above. 

30 Deadfalls and Snares. 

6 — ^Vil•(^ 

7 — Tree. 

8 — Briisli put in trail with one end between 
trigger and peg to knock off trigger when 
ton (bed. 

This deadfall has never failed me and when 
trapping in parts of the country where Ivnx, 
coyote or wolverine are lia])le to eat marten in 
traps, use a snare and it will hang 'em high and 
out of reach. Snare to be fastened to trigger. 

Of course a little pen has to be built when 
setting this deadfall with bait. In setting in 
trail it beats any deadfall I have ever used for 
such animals as have a nature to follow a trail. 
A fine wire can also l)e tied to the trigger and 
stretched across trail instead of a brush and 
tied on the opposite side of trail. I like it, as 
the weight can be put high enough from the 
ground to kill an elk when it drops. 



I will explain how to make the best bear 
deadfall, also the best one for coon that ever 
was made, writes an old and successful deadfall 
trapper. First get a pole six or eight feet long 
for bed piece, get another sixteen or eighteen 
feet long and lay it on top of bed piece. Now 
drive two stakes, one on each side of bed piece 
and pole and near one end of bed piece. About 
18 or 20 inches from first two stakes drive two 
more stakes, one on each side of bed piece and 
fall pole. NoAv drive two more stakes directly 
in front of your two back stakes and about two 
inches in front. 

Next cut a stick long enough to come just to 
the outside of last two stakes driven. Then 
whittle the ends off square so it will work easy 
between the treadle stakes and the two inside 
stakes that your fall works in; next raise your 
fall pole about three feet high. Get a stick 
about one inch thru, cut it so that it will bo 
long enough to rest against your treadle and 
that short stick is your treadle when it is raised 
above the bed a piece, cut the end off slanting 
so it will fit against the treadle good. 



Bear and Coon Deadfall. ^3 

Slant the other end so the fall pole will fit 
good. Now five or six inches from the top of the 
slanted stick cut a notch in your slanted stick. 
Go to the back side, lift your pole up, set the 
post on the bed piece. Place the top of the 
slanted stick against the fall pole. Then place 
the pole off post in the notch in slant stick. 
Press back on bottom of slanted stick and place 
your treadle against the stick. Your trap is set. 
Make V shape on inside of treadle by driving 
stakes in the ground, cedar or pine, and hedge 
it in tight all around. If such there is not, make 
it as tight as you can. Cover the top tight, thii 
cubby should be 3 feet long, 3 feet high and 
wide as your treadle stakes. 

Stake the bait near the back end of cubby. 
Be sure the treadle is just above the bed piece. 
Take the pole off the cul)l)y to set the trap a?, 
you have set it from this side. You can set it 
heavy or light by regulating the treadle. I 
sometimes drive spikes in the bed piece and file 
them off sharp as it will hold better. You can 
weight the fall poles as much as you like after 
it is set. Don't you see, boys, that the old fellow 
conies along and to go in he surely will step on 
the treadle. Bang, it was lowered and you have 
got him. 

This is the best coon deadfall I ever saw. 
The fall pole for coon should be about 14 inches 

34 Deadfalls and Snakes. 

high when set. Set it under trees or along 
brooks where .yon can see eoon signs. Bait with 
frogs, crabs or fish, a piece of mnskrat or duck 
for coon. Build it much the same as for bear, 
only much smaller. You will find this a suc- 
cessful trap. 

* * * 

I will describe a deadfall for bear which I 
use, and which works the best of any I have 
tried, says a Montana trapper. I have two small 
trees about 30 inches apart, cut a pole 10 feet 
long for a bed piece and place in front of trees 
then cut a notch in each tree about 27 inches 
above the bed piece, and nail a good, strong 
piece across from one tree to the other in the 
notches. Cut a long pole five or six inches 
through for the deadfall, place the large end on 
top of bed log, letting end stick by the tree far 
enough to place on poles for weights. 

Then cut two stakes and drive on outside of 
both poles, and fasten top of stakes to tlie trees 
one foot above the cross piece. Then on the in- 
side, 30 inches from the trees, drive two more 
solid slakes altout 2 feet apart and nail a piece 
across them G inches lower than the cross piece 
between the trees. Then cut a lever about three 
f(^et long and flatten one end, and a bait stick 
about two feet long. Cut two notches G inches 
apart, one square on the top and the other on 

Bear and Coon Deadfall. 35 

the bottom, and both close to the top end of bait 

Fasten bait on the other end and then raise 
up the deadfall, place the lever stick across the 
stick nailed between the two trees, letting- the 
end run six inches under the deadfall. Take the 
bait stick and hook lower notch on the piece 
nailed on the two stakes and place end of lever 
in the top notch, then cut weights and place on 
each side until you think you have enough to 
hold any bear. Then put on as many more and 
it will be about right. Stand up old chunks 
around the sides and back and lots of green 
brush on the outside, (let it so he can't see the 

It doesn't require a very solid pen. I drivt 
about three short stakes in front and leave then! 
one foot high, so when he pulls back they will 
come against him, and the set is complete. You 
can weight it with a ton of poles and still it will 
spring easy. The closer together the two notches 
the easier it will spring. 

This trap can be built lighter and- is good for 
coon. In fact, will catch other fur bearers, but 
is not especially recommended for small ani- 
mals, such as ermine and mink. 



At the present day when steel traps are so 
cheap and abundant it may sound very primi- 
tive and an uncertain way of trapping these 
animals for one to advocate the use of the dead- 
fall, especially as every hunter knows the ani- 
mal is much more at home in the water than on 
land. But on land they go and it was by dead- 
falls the way-back Indians killed a many that 
were in their packs at the end of the hunting- 

Of course these wooden traps were not set 
at haphazard thru the brush as marten traps, 
but were set up at the otter slide places, and 
where they crossed points in river bends, or it 
might be where a narrow strip of land connected 
two lakes. These places were known from one 
generation to another and the old traps were 
freshened up sjiring and fall by some member 
of the family Imuting those grounds. 

Tliese s])e('ial deadfalls were called otter 
traps, but leally wlicn once set were open for 
most any animal of a medium size passing that 
path. The writer has known beaver, lynx, fox 


Otter Deadfalls. 37 

and in one instance a cub bear to be caught in 
one of tliese deadfalls. There was a simplicity 
and usefulness about these traps that com- 
mended them to the trapper and even now in 
this rush century some hunters might use them 
with advantage. 

When once set, they remain so until some 
animal comes along and is caught. I say 
"caught" because if properly erected they rarely 
miss. They require no bait and therefore are 
never out of order by the depredations of mice, 
squirrels or moose birds. I knew a man who 
caught two otters together. This may sound 
fishy, but when once a present generation trap- 
per sees one of these traps set he will readily 
believe this apparently impossible result is 
quite likely to happen. 

The trap is made thus : Cut four forked 
young birch about five feet long, pointing the 
lower ends and leaving the forks uppermost. 
Plant two of these firmly in the ground at each 
side of the otter path, three inches apart be- 
tween them and about twenty inches across the 
path. These must be driven very hard in the 
ground and a throat piece put in level between 
the uprights across the path from side to side. 
As a choker and to support the weight of logs 
to kill the otter, cut a pole (tamarac prefer- 
able) long enough to pass three feet each side 


Otter Deadfalls. 39 

of your picket or uprights, see tliat tliis falls 
easy and clear. 

Now cut two short poles for the forks to lay 
in from side to side of the path, being in the 
same direction as the choker. At the middle of 
one of these short poles tie a good stout cord or 
rope (the Indians used split 3'oung roots), mak- 
ing a loop of same long enough to lay over the 
pole in front and down to the height the choke 
pole is going to be. When set, next comes the 
trigger which must be of hard wood and about 
a foot long, round at one end and flat at the 
other. A groove is hacked out all around the 
stick at the round end. This is to tie the cord to. 

The choke stick is now brought up to say 
twenty inches from the ground and rested on 
top of the trigger. A stick about an inch in 
diameter is placed outside the pickets and the 
flat end of the trigger is laid in against this. 
The tied stick to be about eight inches from the 
ground. The tying at the end of the trigger 
being at one side will create a kind of leverage 
sufticiently strong to press hard against the 
tied stick. Care must be taken, however, to 
have this pressure strong enough but not too 
strong for the animal to set off. 

Now load each end of the choke stick with 
small laps of wood to insure holding whatever 
may catch. A little loose moss or grass is placed 

40 Deadfalls and Snares. 

fluffy under tre<id stick when set to insure the 
otter ii()in<»" over and not under. When he clam- 
i)ers over- the tread stick Ids weiglit depresses it, 
the trijijo-er flies up, letting the loaded bar fall 
on his body, which holds liini till death. 

AA'hile my description of the making of a 
deadfall for otters is plain enough to me, jet 
the novice may not succeed in constructing one 
the flrst time. Still if he is a trapper he will 
very soon perceive where any mistake may be 
and correct it. I have used both steel traps and 
deadfalls and altho I do not wish to start a con- 
troversy yet I must say that a deadfall well set 
is a good trap. For marten on a stump they are 
never covered unless with snow, nor is the mar- 
ten when caught destroyed by mice. 

Of course, to set a deadfall for otter it must 
be done in the fall before the ground is frozen. 
Once made, however, it can be set up either 
spring or fall and will, with a little repairs, last 
for years. I am aware the tendency of the age 
is to progress and not to use obsolete methods, 
still even some old things have their advantages. 
Good points are not to be sneered at and one 
of these I maintain for spring and fall trapping 
in a district where otter move about from lake 
to lake or river to river is the old time Indian 



Having seen a good many descriptions of 
deadfalls in the H-T-T lately, writes a Colo- 
rado trapper, I thought 1 would try to show 
the kind that is used around here for marten. 
It is easily made, and can always be kept above 
the snow. 

First, cut a pole (z) five or six inches 
through and twelve feet long, lay it in the crotch 
of a tree five feet from the ground. Then cut 
two sticks two inches through and fifteen inches 
long, cut a notch in each three inches from the 
top and have the notch in one slant downwards 
(B), the other upwards (A). The sticks should 
be nailed on each side of the pole (z), the top 
of which should be flattened a little. Have the 
notches about six inches above the top of the 

Cut another stick 10 inches long (F), cut 
the top off sijuare and nail it six inches farther 
down the pole on the same side as (B), have the 
top five inches above the to]) of pole (Z). Now 
cut two more sticks two and one-half feet long 
(C-D), cut a notch in each two inches from the 



Deadfalls axd Sxarks. 

top and nail a stick (E) across them in the 
notches, so they will be about seven inches apart. 
Set a straddh^ of the pole (Z) ; ther should be 
two inches fartlier down the poh' than (F). 
Then cut another pole (X> ten feet lon.n', lay it 

]\L\RTEX deadfall. 

under (Z), lift up one end of it and nail the 
stick C and 1) to each side of it. See that when 
the sticks C, D and E are lifted up thej will 
fall clear and easily. 

Now cut a bait stick (G) one-half inch 

Marten Deadfall. 43 

through rnd seven inches long, sharpened at 
one end. Cut another stick ( H ) an inch through 
and fifteen inches long, flatten a little on one 
side. To set the trap lift up C, D, E and X, and 
put the end of H under E and rest it on the top 
of F, hold down the other end while you put the 
halt stick (G) in the notches A and B, then let 
the end of H come up on the outside of B 
against the end of G. Put the l)ait on the other 
end of G; when the end is pulled out of the 
notch the trap will spring and spring easily if 
made properly. Lay a block of wood at the l)ack 
end and some small sticks on top, so the animal 
will have to crawl under E to get the bait. Musk- 
rat makes the best bait for marten. 

When you find a tall straight spruce cr some- 
thing that is pretty straight (not a balsam) cut 
it about a foot over your head, says a North- 
western trapper, or as high as you can. AVhen 
you have cut it, split the stumi) down the center 
two feet. Be careful doing tliis, for you are 
striking a dangerous blow as I have good cause 
to know and remeud)er. Trim out tlie tree clean 
and taper off the butt end to make it enter into 
split. Drive down into split about fourteen 
inches. Cut a crotch into ground or snow solid. 

Now cut the mate of this piece already in. 


Deadfalls and Snares. 

split and put iuto split and into crotcli on top 
of other. Have the piece heavy enough to hold 
wolverine. See cuts for the rest. Cover bait as 
shown in cut. I do not make my trip sticks the 
same as others, but I am afraid that I cannot 


explain it to you. See cuts for this also. Use 
your own judi>meut. Of course you will some- 
times find it is not necessary to go to all this 
bother. For instance, sometimes you will find 
a natural hanger for your trap. Then you don't 
have to have the long peg or pole to hold it stiff. 
This trap is used heavy enough by some "long 
line" trappers for Avolverine. They blacken bait 
and cover as shown in Xo. 4. In the two small 
illustrations the triggers are shown in No. 1 
separate and in No. 2 set. A is the bait and 
trip stick, B the lever, C is the upright. B in 
No. 1 is where the bait should be. 


46 Deadfalls and Snares. 

In Xo. 3 A is bait, E is pin which fastens 
deadfall to under pole and prevents deadfall 
from turning to one side. F is post to keep 
under pole from bending*. 

In No. 4 HH are nails which fasten down a 
springy piece of wood to keep cover over bait. 
Cover with fir or spruce boughs. 

Another deadfall much used by marten trap- 
pers is constructed by cutting a notch in a tree 
about a foot in diameter, altho the size of the 
tree makes little difference. The notch should 
be four inches deep and a foot up and down and 
as high uj) as the trapper can cut — four or five 

Only one pole is needed for this trap as the 
bottom of the notch cut answers for the bed or 
bottom piece. ( See illustration. ) The pole for the 
fall should be four inches or more in diameter 
and anywhere from six to ten feet in length, de- 
pending u])on the place selected to set. 

The end fartherest from the bait or notched 
tree must be as high as the notch. This can be 
done by driving a forked stake into the ground 
or by tying that end of the pole to a small tree 
if there is one growing at the right place. 

If the pole for the fall is larger tliau the 
notch is deep, the end must be flattened so (liat 



Deadfalls and Snakes. 

it will work easy in the notch, as a piece of wood 
has been nailed over the notch to hold the fall 
pole in place. 

The tri.i>oers nsed are ^■enerallY the figure 4 
and set Avith bait pointing as shown. There is 
no place for the marten to stand while eating 




bait, only in shelf, and of course when the spin- 
dle is pulled, down conies the pole killing the 

This shelf protects the bait and bed piece 
and the snow does not fill in between and re- 
(piire so much attention as the one first de- 

This deadfall may also be built on a stump 
with a snmll enclosure or i)en and the two-piece 

Marten Deadfall. 


trigger used. Most trappers place the bait or 
long trigger on bottom pole, when trapping for 
marten. It will be readily seen that a marten, 
to get the bait, Avill stand l)etween the 'fall" and 
bed or under pole and of course is caught while 
trying to get the bait. 

The height that deadfalls for marten should 
be built depends upon how deep the snow gets. 




In the fall and early winter they can be built on 
the ground or logs and other fur-bearers are 
taken as well. 

A few inches of snow will not interfere with 
the workings of deadfalls on the ground, but 
deep snows will. To make catches the trapper 
must clean out under the fall ])ole each round. 
This is no small task. The trapper is always 

50 Deadfalls and Snares. 

on the lookout for suitable places to construct 
L:arten deadfalls. 

When the snows get several feet deep, and 
the tra])per makes his rounds on snowshoes, the 
deadfalls constructed several feet al)Ove the 
ground are the ones that make the catches. 



The stone deadfiill here described is used by 
trappers wherever flat stones can be found and 
is a good trap to catch skunk, opossum, mink and 
other small game in. The trap is made as fol- 
lows : 

The figure 4 trigger is best for this trap and 
is made after this manner: standard (1) is 
made by cutting a stick five or six inches long 
out of hard wood and whittling it to a flat point, 
but blunt at one end; (2) is about five inches 
long with a notch cut within about one and one- 
half inches of the end with the other end made 
square so that it will fit in (3) which is the bait 
stick. This is only a straight stick sixteen or 
eighteen inches long, while the other end of the 
stick should have a small prong on it, a tack 
driven in, or something to hold the bait in posi- 
tion. The best way will be to tie the bait on 

After you have found a flat stone weighing 
from 50 to 100 pounds, depending upon what 
game you expect to trap, select the place for the 
trap, first place a small flat stone underneath so 



Deadfalls and Snares. 

that your game will be killed quicker and also so 
that the upright trigger will not sink into the 
ground. Lift up the large, or upper stone, 
kneeling on one knee before the stone resting the 
Aveight of the stone on the other. This leaves 
both hands free to set the trap. This is done by 


placing the triggers in the position shown in il- 
lustration and then letting the stone down very 
easily ou the triggers. You should keep your 
knee under the stone all the time until you see 
that it comes down easily and does not "go off" 
of its own weight. The bait should always be 
l)Ut on before the trap is set. This trap will go 
off easy and yon must be careful that the bait you 

Stone Deadfalls, 53 

put on is not too heavy and will cause the trap 
to fall of its own accord. 

This trap can be made to catch rabbits which 
will come in handy to bait other traps for larj^er 
game. In trapping for rabbits bait with apples, 
cabbage, etc. 

This trap does not take long to make, as no 
pen need be built, the top stone is large enough 
to strike the animal, making no difference in 
what position it gets when after the bait. A 
stone two or three inches thick and say thirty 
inches across and the same length or a little 
longer is about the proper size for skunk, opos- 
sum, etc., but of course larger or smaller stones 
can be used — whatever you find convenient. 
* * * 

This trap consists of a flat piece of stone sup- 
ported by three fits of wood, the whole trouble 
being in making these three fits right, and this 
can be done by carefully comparing the descrip- 
tion here given with illustrations, whenever they 
are referred to. The parts are all nmde of wood 
about three-eighths of an inch thick. Fig. 1 is 
thirteen inches long, with notches about one-six- 
teenth of an inch deep cut in its upper side, two 
of the notches near together and at one end, and 
another four and a half inches from the first two. 
The latter notch should be cut a little sloping 
across the stick. 


Deadfalls and Snakes. 

Figure 1 represents a top view and the piece 
next below it is a side view of tlie piece of wood 
as it should be made, and end fartherest from the 


Fig. 1. 

Fig. 2. 

;^'9.3.^ FRe^T-fc 


notches being trimmed to a point to hold the 
bait. This constitutes the trigger. 

The lever is shown in Fig. 2, the cut above 
giving a side view and that below it a bottom 

Stone Deadfalls. 55 

view of this part of the trap. The piece of wood 
needed for it is six and one-half inches long, one 
inch wide at one end, and tapering down to 
three-sixteenths of an inch at the other ; a notch 
is cut across the under side one and a half inches 
from the wide end. Level off the upper side of 
the narrow end to about one-half the original 
thickness. If the flat stone to be used is a heavy 
one, the notch must not be more than 1 inch 
from the end; otherwise the leverage on the 
notches would be greater than is desh'able, tend- 
ing to hold the parts together too rigidlv. 

The upright post. Fig. 3, is seven inches long, 
slightly forked at the bottom (to make it stand 
firm and prevent twisting round when in use), 
the upper end beveled from the front backwards 
at an angle of about 45 degrees. The front of the 
upright is the side that would face a person 
standing exactly opposite the trap when set. 

On the right side cut a long notch, half the 
width of the wood in depth, commencing the hol- 
loAV slope of the notch one inch from the lower 
end and making the square shoulder just three 
inches from the bottom of the post; level the 
shoulder oft" from the front so as to leave only a 
narrow edge. Place the post upright, (see Fig. 
4) it's forked end standing on a small piece of 
wood or flat stone, to prevent it from sinking 
into the ground ; bait the pointed end of the trig- 

56 Deadfalls and Snares. 

ger aud hold it up horizontally with its middle 
notch, catchinii' behind the shoulder of the notch 
in the upright i)ost ; then i)lace the beveled end of 
the lever in the notch at the end of trigger, the 
notch in the lever laying on the edge of the top 
of the upright post. 

Lastly, make the stone rest on the top of the 
lever, arranging the stone so that the bait will be 
near the lower end of the stone. 

It is a good plan to hollow out the ground 
somewhat under where the stone falls, to allow 
a space for the pieces of the Fig. 1- to la^^ without 
danger of being broken. The bait, also, should 
be something that will flatten easily and not 
hard enough to tilt the stone up after it has 

The trouble with most deadfalls usually set, 
is in the weight of stone. When 3'ou get one 
heavy enough it will not trip easy when game 
takes hold, and oftentimes break head piece 
where the head takes hold of standard. The 
head piece from stone down to where standard 
sets in notch should be fully 2^ inches, so when 
stone starts to fall it throws triggers out from 
under; otherwise, stone will catch and break 

Young trappers Avhen you are making trig- 
gers preparatory for your sets, tie each pair to- 
gether separately as they are finished, then when 

58 Deadfalls and Snares. 

you are ready to set there are no misfits. Now 
we are up to the bait stick. It should under no 
condition, be more than 9 inclies lon^, and often- 
times shorter will answer better. A slotted 
notch on one end the width of trigj^ers, and 
sharpened at the other, is all that is necessary. 
Then the bait will lay on the foundation of trap 
within 5 or 6 inches of front of the trap. Don't 
put bait away back under stone. You loose all 
the force when it falls. 

In building foundations for traps the utmost 
caution should be exercised in getting them good 
and solid. ( See how well you can do it instead 
of how quick.) Begin in the fall before the 
trapping season is on, locate and build your trap, 
and be sure the top stone is plent}" heavy, raise it 
up and let it fall several times. If it comes to- 
gether with the bang of a wolf trap and will 
pinch a hair, so much the better. 

To illustrate: While squirrel shooting one 
morning in the fall of 1905, I was standing on a 
ledge where I used to trap for coons, and I hap- 
pened to remember of a traj) underneath me. I 
just thought I would see if it was there. I went 
down and kicked away the drifted leaves and 
found it intact and ready for business. When I 
lifted it up the foundation was as solid as the 
day I put it there, and that was in the fall of 

60 Deadfalls and Snares. 

1800, and I want to sav rij^lit liere that it took 
all the strength I had to set it. 

Trappers, if you will try one or more of the 
above described deadfalls for those skunk, I 
think you can tie their pelts about your neck for 
protection cold mornings, and none will be the 
wiser as far as smell goes, jn'ovided, however, 
you put some obstruction to the right and left of 
the trap so it will compel his skunkship to enter 
direct in front, and then carefully adjust the 
length of bait stick so stone will crush him about 
the heart. I have taken quite a lot of skunk 
and verj' few ever scented where the head and 
heart were under stone, writes an Ohio trapper. 

I always had a preference for above described 
traps for many reasons, yet if you live where 
there is no stone, you are not in it. 

Deadfalls come in handy sometimes and with 
no cost whatever — unless the cost is building 
them. Will send two illustrations of the stone 
(h^adfalls writes a successful deadfall trapper. 
AMll say that there is a right and a wrong way 
to set the deadfall. If you want to make sure 
of your catch never set 3'our deadfall flat with 
short triggers shaped like figure 4, but make long 
triggers instead and have the weight or choker 
sit almost upright and draw the top trigger close 



G2 Deadfalls and Snares 

to the one that it rests on at the bott« ., In this 
Avay YOU have a trap that will be t^v easy to 
t(nich otf. 

The way that some set their deadfalls the 
animal can remove bait without beinc: caught, 
simply because they draw the bait out from un- 
der the trap and stand far enough away to be out 
of danger of being caught. I can take a two 
hundred j)Ound Aveight and set a deadfall that 
will catch a small field mouse but it would not 
do to have them knock that easy for you will get 
tame that is too small to handle. 



I will give a description of a bear pen, writes 
a Canadian trapper. The bottom of the floor is 
made first of two logs about ( 1-1 ) nine feet long 
and nine or ten inches thick. They are placed 
side by side as shown in cut and two other logs 
(2-2) nine feet long and eighteen inches in thick- 
ness are placed one on each side of the bottom 
logs. Then cut two short logs about twelve or 
fourteen inches thick and long enough to reach 
across the pen and extend about six inches over 
each side. Notch these down, as shown in cut 
(3-3) so that the top of the logs are about three 
or four inches higher than the sides. 

Cut notches in the top of these logs so that 
when logs 4-4 will lay solid on top of the other 
side logs. If they don't lie solid enough bore 
holes in the ends of the short logs and drive 
wooden pins in the holes. The top of the short 
logs and the inside of the long logs should be 
flattened and a short block (5) fitted loosely 
in one end, and the other end should be closed 
by a block driven down in notches cut in the 
sides of 4-4, as shown in small cut. The top of 



The Bear Pen. 65 

the block (6) should be about five inches lower 
than the top of the side logs. Notches are next 
cut in the side logs, directly over this block, so 
that when the roller (7) is in place, it will fit 
down snugly on this block. The roller is about 
five inches thick and should turn easily in the 

The next step is to make the lid. It should 
be made of two logs of such a size that they will 
entirely close the top of the trap. They are 
notches down and pinned onto the roller and 
block 5. These logs should project over rear end 
of pen about four or five feet. Before pinning 
these logs in places, a hole should be made for 
the bait stick, half of it being cut in each log. 
Pins should be driven in the side logs, over the 
roller, so that the bear cannot raise the lid. Two 
crotches are then cut and set up at the sides 
of the trap and spiked solid to the sides. A 
short pole is then placed in the crotches and a 
long pole, running lengthwise of the trap, is 
fastened to the lid at one end with wire and the 
other ends fits into a notch in the bait stick when 
the trap is set. The bait stick has a spike driven 
thru it on the inside of the trap to keep it from 
pulling thru. 

To set the trap, pile stones on the end of the 
lid until it will tij) easily, then put a pole thr.u 
under lid and go inside and fasten the bait on 

66 Deadfalls and Snares. 

the bait stick. Then pull the long pole down 
and hook it into the notch in the bait stick. Re- 
move the stones from lid and take the pole from 
under it and the trap is set and ready for the 
first bear that comes aloni?. If the lid does not 
seem heaA\v enough, pile stone on it. A trap of 
this kind may be made by tAvo men in half a 
day and will be good for a number of years. 

The log trap is one of the very best methods 
of taking the bear, it beats the deadfall all to 
nothing, says an old and experienced Ohio bear 
trapper. It is a sure shot every time; I have 
never known it to fail except where the {)en had 
stood for a number of years and become rotten. 
In a case of that kind the bear would have no 
difficulty in gnawing liis way out. This trap or 
pen, as I shall call it, has been time tried and 
bear tested, ^ly fatlier used to make these traps 
and many is the time when a boy I have ridden 
on horseback upon a narrow path, cut for the 
purpose of letting a horse ])ass along and on 
nearing the pen heard the growling and tearing 
around of the bear in the pen and the hair on 
my head woubl almost crowd my hat off. 

Go about building it this way: First select 
the spot where you have reason to believe that 
bear inhabit; now having made your selection, 

The Bear Pen. 67 

get a level place and on this spot lay a course 
of logs with the top flattened off; this may be 
eight by three feet. This being done, commence 
to lay uj) the house of logs six to eight inches 
in diameter. Three sides of each log should be 
flattened ; these will be the top, bottom and the 
inside. It is necessary this be done, for they 
must fit closely together in order that the bear 
cannot get a starting place to gnaw. This is 
why I suggest that the inside of the log be flat- 
tened. It is a well-known fact that you can put 
any gnawing animal into a square 1)0X and he 
cannot gnaw out for he cannot get the starting 

Lay a short log first, then a long one, notch- 
ing each corner as you go so the logs will fit 
closely together. Now for the front corners; 
drive a flattened stake into the ground, letting 
the flattened side come against the logs. Now 
as you proceed to lay on a course of logs pin 
thru the stake into each log. Now go on up until 
you get a height of about four feet, then lay on, 
for the top, a course of short logs commencing 
at the back end. 

Between the second and third logs cut out 
a little notch and flatten the under side of this 
log around the notch; this is to receive the trig- 
ger, which is made of a small ])ole about three 
inches thick. Put this into the hole and let it 


Deadfalls and Snares. 

come down within ten inches of the floor. Then 
cut a notch in the side facing- tlie front of the 
pen and so it will fit up ajiainst the under side 
of the leg with the notch in ; now you may make a 

bear entering pen. 

notch in the trigger ahout six inches ahove the 
top of the ])en and on the same side of the trig- 
ger that the first notch was uuide. Now the 
trigger is readj^ except adjusting the bait. 

The Bear Pen. 69 

Next lay a binder on top of the pen and upon 
either end of the short course of logs; pin the 
binders at either end so the bear cannot raise 
the top off the pen. You may also lay on three 
or four logs to weight it down and make it 
doubly sure. You may pin the first short top 
log in front to the side logs to keep the front 
of the pen from spreading. Now we have the 
body of the pen complete. 

The door is the next thing in order. The 
fiirst or bottom log ought to be twelve feet long, 
but it is not necessary for the balance of them to 
be that length ; flatten the top and bottom of 
each log so they will lie tight together, also flat- 
ten off the inside of the door so it will work 
smoothly against the end of the pen. Lay the 
logs of the door onto the first or long log, put- 
ting a pin in each end of the logs as you lay 
them on. Go on this way until you have enough 
to reach the height of the pen and fully cover 
the opening. 

Another way of fastening the door together 
is to get the logs all ready, then lay them upon 
the ground and pin two pieces across the door. 
Either waj will do. Now the door being in 
readiness, put it in its place and drive two stakes 
in the ground to keep the animal from shoving 
the door away. If these do not appear to be 
solid enough to support the door against an on- 

70 Deadfalls and Snares. 

slaught, you may cut a notch in the outside of 
the stake near the top; get a pole eight feet in 
lengtli, sharpen the ends, letting one end come 
in the notch of the stake and the other into the 
ground; this will hold the door perfectly solid. 
Cut a slight notch in the top log of the door for 
the end of the spindle and the next move is to 
raise the door to the proper height. Set a stud 
under the door to keep it from falling. Get your 
spindle ready, flatten the top of either end a 
little, then cut a stanchion just the right length 
to set under the spindle on the first top log. 

Tie your bait onto the lower end of the trig- 
ger, one man going inside to put the trigger in 
the- proper place. To facilitate the springing of 
the trap, lay a small round stick in the upper 
notch of the trigger, letting the end of the spin- 
dle come up under the stick and as the bear 
gets hold of the meat on the bottom, of the trig- 
ger the least \m\\ will roll the trigger from the 
end of the spindle. However, it will spring very 
easily as the stanchion under the end of the 
spindle is so near the end. 

This kind of trap can be made b,y two men 
in one day or less, and it often happens that the 
hunter and trapper wants to set a tra]) for bear 
a long way from any settlement or road. The 
carrying of a fifty pound bear traj) a distance of 
twenty or thirty miles is no little task. Then 

The Bear Pen. 71 

again, this trap costs nothing but a little time 
and the trapper's whole life is given over to time. 
One man can make this trap alone and set it, 
but it is better for two to work together in this 
work, for in case the door should spring upon 
him while he was inside he would be forever 
lost. I have caught two wildcats at once in this 
pen, but it is not to be expected that you will get 
more than one bear or other large animal at a 



In describing a portable deadfall, an Indiana 
trapper writes as follows: We took a piece of 
sawed stuff 2x4, sny 5 feet long, then another 
the same size and length. For upright pieces to 
hold the main pieces so one would fall square on 
the other, we used sawed stuff 1x3, two pieces 
set straight up and down at each end, or about 
far enough to leave the back end stick out three 
inches, and front end or end where the triggers 
set, 6 inches. 

Nail these 1x3 two on each end as directed 
above, nail to lower piece 2x4 only, then at back 
end bore a hole through the two uprights and 
also upper 2x4, or the piece that falls, put a 
bolt through, or a wood pin if the hole in the 
2 x 4 is larger than those through the uprights ; 
then you are readv to raise it up and let it 
"drop" to see whether it works smoothly or noi. 

Better nail a block 2x4 between the tops of 
the uprights to keep them from spreading apart, 
then it is ready all except the triggers and string 
for them to run against. It is portable, you can 
pick it up and move it anywhere, only a stake or 



74 Deadfalls and Ij^nares. 

two needed driven down on each side. Where 
string is shown as tied to little bush should be a 
small stake. 


I send a drawing of a trap called the "Shear 
Trap," writes an Eastern trapper. This is not 
a new trap, neither is it my own invention. I 
have used this style and can recommend it to be 
O. K., cheap, easy made, light to move, will last 
and will catch most any small animal. 

This trap is made as follows : Take 4 strips 
of board 4 feet 4 inches long, by 3 inches wide. 
Bore one inch hole two inches from end of all 
four of them. Now make two rounds about 13 
inches long and put two of the boards on each 
side of the round. At the other end put the two 
middle boards on the other round (see illustra- 
tion). Make one other round fifteen inches 
long, same size as the others. Put the two out- 
side boards on it, forming two separate frames 
at the other end — so the two inside boards can 
turn on the round to which the,y are coupled. 

Take two strips three inches wide, two feet 
and six inches long. Bore one inch hole two 
inches from the top end and put round broom 
stick thru it seventeen inches long. Fasten all 
the rounds by wedges or small wooden pins. 

76 Deadfalls and Snares. 

Stand the two strips last mentioned on the out- 
side of the frame at the end they separate and 
make them fast so as to stand perpendicular. 
For bait stick take lathe or one-half inch board 
one inch wide. Bore hole as shown in cut (fig- 
ure G) cut notch (figure 2). For trigger any 
stick 18 inches long, f inch thick will do : tie 
string 2 inches from end and tie other end at fig- 
ure 1, pass the short end under round from the 
outside (figure 3) and catch in notch in bait lath 
(figure 2), the other end bait at figure 4. Put 
weight at figure 5. Cover trap at figure 6 to 
keep animal from going in from back up to fig- 
ure 7. For bait I use fresh fish, muskrat, bird, 
etc., and scent with honey or blood. 
* * * 


I promised in my last' letter to describe the 
barrel trap, says a Northwestern trapper, which 
I use for capturing rats. Other trappers may 
have used this trap for years, but I only mean 
this for the young trappers who know nothing 
about this trap. 

Take any kind of an old barrel made of hard 
wood (a salt barrel makes a good one) , and fix a 
board on one side of the top with a hinge. Let 
one end of the barrel project out directly over 
the barrel to within about 5 or G inches of the 

Portable Traps. 77 

other side. Arrange it so that the end. of the 

board not over the barrel is a little the heaviest 

so when the rat tilts down the end in the barrel 

it will come back to place again. 

Place a bit of parsnip apple, or celery near 

the end of the board over the barrel so when the 

rat reaches his front feet over on the board it 

will tilt down and let him in the barrel to stay. 

Bury the barrel near a river or creek to within 

about 2 or 3 inches of top of barrel, so there will 

be from 6 inches to 1 foot of water in the barrel. 

If there is much water in the barrel the most of 

the rats will be dead when you visit your traps. 

Several may be captured in one night in this 

kind of a trap. 

* * * 


Saw a small log in blocks from 4 to 6 inches 
long. Bore an inch hole through the center. 
Take nails and drive them so that they form a 
"muzzle" in one end and have the nails very 
sharp. Fasten your blocks with a piece of wire 
and put it in the runway or on a log or any- 
where that a coon will see it, and nine out of ten 
will put his foot into it. I bait with honey. I 
caught 75 or 80 coons this season with "block" 

I put stoppers or false bottoms in one end of 


Deadfalls and Snares. 

the block, piece of corn cob or anything will do. 
Cut the foot off to get the animal out of this 

The illustration shows a square block with 
the hole bored in the side. This is done to better 
show how it should be done, although when set, 



the hole should be up. Bait with a piece of fresh 
rabbit, frog, or anything that coon are fond of. 
Instead of the blocks the auger hole can be 
bored in a log or root of a tree if a suitable one 
can be found where coon frequent. 


The best material is spruce, but if spruce is 
not to be had, hard wood is better than soft. Fol- 
low directions closely; never use old, dozy wood; 

Portable Traps. 


good, sound, straight-grained material is the 
cheapest to use. A good way to get your mate- 
rial is to go to the saw-mill, select good straight- 
grained 2x4 studding, have them ripped length- 
wise again, making four strips out of the origi- 
anl 2x4, eacli strip being two inches wide by 
one inch thick ; then have them cut in the lengths 


— two standards (A), 14 inches long; (B) two 
side pieces, 2^ feet long; (C) two drop bars, 2^ 
feet. Bore a hole in each piece with a one inch 
bit, two inches from the end of the piece to the 
center of the hole. (D) A piece of lath about 8 
inches long, with one end beveled off to fit in slot 
of E ; tie a piece of small rope, about a foot long, 
two inches from che other end. (E) A piece of 
lath, 2| feet long, with a slot cut crosswise two 

80 Deadfalls and Snares. 

inches from one end and a piece of rope tied two 
inch from the other end, about a foot long. 

If 3'ou i>et your nuiterial at the mill have four 
rounds (F) turned out of oak or maple (must 
be hard wood), three of them being 12 inches 
long, one being 8 inches' long, ^ inch in diameter. 
They must be some smaller than the hole, as they 
swell when wet. 

Your trap is now ready to put together. 
Take one 12 inch round slip on the side pieces 
B first, then the two standards A; next place a 
12 inch round in the holes in the top of the stan- 
dards. The front end of the trap is done, except 
fastening the standards to the round and the set- 
ting apparatus to the top round of standards. 
Next take the remaining 12 inch round slip on 
the drop bars C first, then the side pieces B out- 
side; next place the short round G in the front 
end of drop bar C. 

You can drive nails thru the outside pieces 
and the round. Where there are two pieces on 
a side on one round, fasten thru the outside 
piece, always leaving the inside piece loose so 
that it will turn on the round. A much better 
way, altho it is more work, is to bore a hole thru 
the side piece and round and drive in a liard 
wood plug. This is the best way, because if any 
part of the trap breaks you can knock out the 

Portable Traps. 81 

plug much easier than to pull out a nail. The 
holes should be bored with a ^ inch bit. 

Tie the rope attached to E to the rear round, 
leaving two inches play, between E and the 
round. Tie the rope attached to D to the top 
round of standards, leaving two inches play at 
top and two inches between lower end of D and 
bottom round. 

First place a stone on the drop bar, weigh- 
ing 20 pounds. Then raise the drop bar high 
enough so that you can place the short lath un- 
der the round of drop so that the weight rests 
on the rope. These is the secret of setting. The 
pressure on top forces the lower end to fly up. 
Now place the beveled end of the short lath in 
the slot of the long lath and the trap is set. 

Hang your bait from the drop bars, under the 
weight, about eight inches from the front. The 
game will then come to the side of the trap. 
Never tie bait on the lath. 

Set the trap in front of the hole, block up by 
setting up two stones V shape on the upper side 
of hole, forcing game thru the trap to enter or 
come out. 



During my trapping experiences I remem- 
ber of visiting an old trapper's deadfalls and 
at that time I had never seen or used any trig- 
ger other than the figure 4, but this trapper 
used the prop and spindle. I looked at several 
of his traps; in fact, went considerably out of 
my way to look at some eight or ten of them. 
Two of these contained game — a skunk and 
opossum. I had often heard of these triggers, 
but was skeptical about them being much good. 
I now saw that these triggers were all right and 
on visiting my traps again set a few of them 
with these triggers. Since that time I have 
never used the figure 4. 

The prop and spindle I know will look to 
many too hard to "go off," but they can be set 
so that they will go off fairh^ easy. It is not 
necessary that the trap be set so that the least 
touch will make it go off. It is best to have the 
trap set so that mice nibbling at bait will not 
throw it. 

Trappers who have never used the deadfall 
will, no doubt, find that after they use them a 


Some Triggers. 83 

short time and become better acquainted with 
their construction and operation that they will 
catch more game than at first. This is only nat- 
ural as all must learn from experience largely, 
whether at trapping or anything else. 

The prop is a straight piece about seven 
inches long and about one-half inch in diameter. 
The spindle, or long trigger, is about the size of 
the prop, but should be sixteen or eighteen 
inches long with a prong cut off within two 
inches of the end to help hold the bait on more 
securely. See cut elsewhere showing these trig 
gers and of the figure likewise. These illus- 
trations will give a better idea of how the trig- 
gers are made to those who have never seen or 

used them. 

* * * 

I saw some time ago where a brother wanted 
to know how to make a deadfall, writes an 
Illinois trapper. I send a picture of one that 
I think is far ahead of any that I have seen in 
the II-T-T yet, that is, the triggers. I have seen 
deadfall triggers that would catch and not fall 
when the bait was pulled at, but there is no 
catch to these. 

Trigger No. 1 is stub driven in the ground 
witlL a notch cut in the upper end for end of 
bait. Stick No. 5 to fit in No. 3 is another stub 
driven in ground for bait stick No. 5 to rest on 


Deadfalls and Snares. 

top. No. 3 is a stick, one end laid on top of bait 
sticlv outside of stub No. 2, the other end on top 
of lower pole. No. 4 is the prop stick. One 
end is set on stick No. 3 about one inch inside 
the lower x)ole the other end underneath the 


upper pole. The X represents the bait. When 
the bait stick is pulled out of notch in stub No, 
1, the upper pole comes down and has got your 

If 3'ou find vour bait is caught between the 
poles YOU may know the bait is not back in the 
box far enough. If you find the trap down and 
bait and bait stick gone, you may know that the 
l)ait is too far back. The animal took his whole 
body in before he pulled the bait. 

I haye tried to describe this trap for the ones 
that don't know how to make a deadfall. 

Som(4)ody wants to know how to make a 
good deadfall. Well the plans published in 
back numbers of H-T-T are all right except the 
figure four sticks and bait. Make your sticks 

Some Triggers. 


like tins, and you will be pleased with the way 
they work, says an experienced trapper. 

No. 2 flat view. The trigger sets in the slant- 
ing cut in side of No. 2. Don't put bait on 
trigger. Put it in back end of pen and pin it to 


the ground. Turn trigger across opening slanted 
slightly in, then you get them by neck or shoul- 
ders. The longer the slot in the trigger, the 
harder they will trij). Set as straight up as 

Make 1 and 2 of hard wood. Saw a block 31 
inches long and split into f inch squares. Make 
cuts square with a saw and split out the part 
you don't want. Bevel ends with a hatchet. 
Make trigger of green hard wood stick with 
bark on. 

86 Deadfalls and Snares. 

I cut a tree from 8 to 10 inches in diameter 
and cut off 7 feet long. Split the piece open and 
bury one piece on a level Avitli the earth — split 
side up — and place the other half on top. I 
hew off any bumps and make a perfect fit. Then 
I cut out bushes the size of my arm, and drive 
them down on each side of my fall and leave 
them an inch or two higher than I expect my 
top log to be when set. Be sure to begin far 
enough at the back to force the animals to go 
in at the front. I use the figure four triggers 
and tie the bait to the long trigger. 

Another trigger is made as follows : Cut 
two forks and lay pole across just in front of 
the log on top of the forks. Take another piece 
of timber about four feet long, tie a string to 
each end and let one end have a trigger and the 
other be tied on your top log. I drive a nail in 
the top log and tie the string to it, and I call 
this my Fly trigger. It acts as a lever, for when 
the fly comes up over the piece on the forks and 
the trigger goes over half way back by the side 
of the log, and the trigger about a foot long — 
straight and thin, and sticks under the log — 
have a short trigger tied to the fly pole and a 
forked sa])liug the size of your finger and long 
enough to stick in the ground to hohl the trig- 
ger. Put the bait on long trigger and catch the 
short trigger through the fork and let it cat^h 

Some Triggers. 87 

the long trigger. This trigger leaves the fall 
open in front and is the one I prefer. 

Take two small logs about 10 or 12 feet long, 
large enough to break a coon's back, and make 
a pen about midway, or one-third from front 
end, to put the bait in, and the tri.r;ger. Two 
foot boards, or saplings will do, and make the 
pen so that the animal will have to step across 
the bottom log and take the bait, and be sure to 
set so that the top log will fall across the mink, 
coon, skunk, or opossum, as they are the ani- 
mals I kill with the fall. Use fly pole triggers 
as above, for this deadfall. 

I make these falls near the runways of the 
animals I wish to catch. When I am sure to 
stay at a place, I build my falls in the summer 
and by the trapping time they look old and nat- 



The deadfall slio\Yn here can be used at dens 
or in paths Avhere animals travel frequently. 
When set across the entrance of dens it will 
catch an animal going- in without bait. That is, 
it will catch an animal going in, as the triggers 
are so constructed that they can only be pushed 
towards the bait as shown in illustration. If 
the trap is to be used at dens without bait the 
regular figure 4 triggers had best be used, but 
set extending along the log instead of back into 
the pen. An animal in entering will strike the 
trigger and down comes the fall. 

The trap shown here and the triggers are 
made as follows: Cut two logs and lay one on 
the ground. This log should be at least four 
feet long. Place it firmly on the gTOund with 
flat side up. This log need not be as flat as 
shown in illustration, but should be flattened 
slightly. Drive two stakes three feet long with- 
in a foot or so of one end (8) and (9). 

Now come to the other end and drive two 
more (10) and (11). Stake ten which is di- 
rectl3^ opposite from (11) you want to be care- 

Trip Triggers. 


fill not to split, as one of the triggers rests on 
it. Tlie fall is now placed in position, that is 
the upper log. The end of this is split and a 
stake driven in the ground so that the fall 
will not turn between the stakes but is held 
firmh^ See that the fall will work easily up 

; ,. J''' will . . 'id'.Miiiiiiv".,!' 

)"■ ., M^ 


and down ; that the stakes are not so close to- 
gether that the fall binds, yet it wants to fit 

Cut trip stick (4) and trigger (3), lifting 
the fall up with one knee and place end of (3) 
onto (4) slightly, so that a small pressure on 
(4) will spring the trap. After you have the 

90 Deadfalls and Snares. 

trap set spring? it to soo tliat it works all ricjht. 
If the trap works all rii;lit and you are setting 
across the entrance of a den the pen of course 
is not wanted. If you are setting in paths or 
near dens, drive stakes in a semi-circle as shown 
in illustration, but the stakes should stick above 
the ground some eighteen inches or about as 
high as the "fall" jjole when set. It is a good 
plan to throw leaves or grass on the stakes. 

A small notch (5) should be cut in upright 
post (8) -for trip stick to fit in to hold it up to 
that end. Be careful, however, that this notch 
is not cut too deep. The bait (6) is placed back 
in the pen and fastened with wire or a stake 
driven thru it into the ground. The open space 
over bait is now covered over and the entire trap 
can be made to not look so suspicious by cut- 
ting brush and throwing over it excepting in 
front of the bait. An animal in going in for 
bait steps on or pushes the long stick (marked 
4 at one end and 5 at the other) off of (3) and 
is usuallv causht. 

This is another good trip trigger deadfall. 
A short log should be laid on the ground and the 
two stakes driven op])osite each other as in the 
trap just described. These stakes are not shown, 

Trip Triggers. 


as a better view of the triggers and workings of 
the trap can be had by omitting these. 

In the illustration the "fall" pole is 
weighted, but it is best to have the pole heavy 
enough and not weighted. The stakes on which 
the upper or cross piece is nailed should be from 
twelve to eighteen inches apart. The cross piece 


need not be heavy, yet should be strong so that 
the weight of the fall will not bend it. 

The pens or enclosures used cannot be cov- 
ered, as this would interfere with the workings 
of the triggers. If the pen is sixteen inches or 
higher very few animals will climb over to get 
bait, but will go in where the trapper wants and 
if properly made and set are apt to catch the 

92 Deadfalls and Snares. 

Along in the late seventies or beginning of 
the eighties, when a good sized niiiskrat would 
bring about as much as a common prime mink, 
and a steel trap was quite a pi'ize to be in pos- 
session of, I had perhaps two dozen traps, some 
old fashioned, that would be quite a curiosity 
at present, besides a few Newhouse No. and 1. 

That was in Ontario, Canada. Skunk, mink, 
coon, muskrat and fox were the furs in that 
part, Waterloo, Brant and Oxford Counties. 
Later I used this deadfall with success in Iowa 
and other sections, so that there is no doubt but 
that it will be found a good fur catcher i^ most 

I used to catch a great deal with deadfalls, — 
picture of which I here enclose. I have seen 
nearly all the different makes of deadfalls and 
have tried some of them, but the one I here send 
you the picture of, which can be easily under- 
stood, is the one I have had the most success 
with. I believe they are the best, and an animal 
can't get at the bait without striking it off, be- 
sides som-e animals will examine a bait without 
touching it. This deadfall, if they are curious 
enough just to enter inside and put their foot 
on the trigger stick, they are yours if the trap 
is set properly. 

This style (»f deadfall can be successfully, 
used over skunk holes, game runways and there 

Trip Triggers. 


you do away with the bait yard. This style of 
trap is much easier made, as it requires very 
little skill. Just a few straight sticks about the 
size round of a cane, a little twine. You can 
catch most any animal from a weasel to a rac- 
coon. The illustration shows the ^'fall" or upper 
pole weighted. In our experience we have found 


it more satisfactory to have the "falF' heavy 
enough to kill the animal without the weight. 
It is often hard for the trapper to find a pole of 
the right size and weight for the "fall"' and the 
next best way is to place additional weight as 

First make a pen in the form of a wigwam, 
driving stakes well into the ground to keep the 
animal away from the rear of the trap. It should 
be open on one side. Place a short log in fi'ont 
of the opening and at both ends of tliis drive 
stakes to hold it in place and for the long log 


Deadfalls and ^naki:s. 

to work lip and down in. The top lojj should be 
six or eij^ht^ feet long, according to size of ani- 
mal joii aim to use trap for, and about the same 
size as the bottom log. Cut a forked stick about 
12 inches long for the bait stick, notching one 
end and tapering the other as shown in Fig. No. 



2. A stick 24 inches long should then be cut 
and flattened at both ends. 

To set the trap, raise one end of the upper 
log and stick one end of the flattened stick 
under it, resting it upon the top of the stake 
<»n the (mtside of the log. Place the bait stick, 
point downward, inside the pen upon a chip 
of wood or rock to keep it from sinking into the 

Trip Triggers. 95 

ground and set flat stick in the notch. When 
the animal pulls at the bait it turns the bait 
stake and throws the cross piece out of the notch 
of the bait stick and let the top log fall. 



In explaininij; size pen some make them 2 feet 
long, writes a New York trapper, while one 12 
inches lon<;' (as used on this trail), is sufficient; 
not only that, but it is superior for the following 
reasons : A 2 foot pen would let the animal pass 
inside and beyond the drop when sprung, unless 
the animal stepped on the treddle. 

The Indians' trap is made by cutting a sap- 
ling 3 or 4 inches in diameter off the butt end 
cut a. piece 2 foot and place on the ground for a 
bed piece; drive four stakes, two on either side 
of bed piece, leaving a space between of 12 
inches, using the balance of pole for the drop to 
play between the stakes. For balance of pen a 
few stakes, bark or slabs cut from a tree. 

For a spindle, cut from a hemlock, spruce or 
other dry limb a piece eight or ten inches long, 
sharpen one end to a point, the other end flatten 
a trifle for an inch or two on the underside, so 
that when placed on the bed piece it will lay 
steady. Now with a sharp knife, connnence -J 
inch back, and round off top side of spindle on 
which to place a standard four inches in length, 
cut from same material as spindle. 


How TO Set. 97 

In setting-, place the bait on the spindle so as 
to leave a spa(^e of only six inches from bait to 
the standard; now take spindle in left hand, 
standard in right hand, kneel down, raise the 
drop placing one knee under it to hold it up the 
right height. Lay spindle onto center of bed 
piece and place the standard on top of spindle, 
letting drop rest on top of standard so as to keep 
the pieces in position. Now by moving the stan- 
dard out or in on the spindle, the spring of the 
trap can be so gauged that it will set safely for 
weeks or months, sprung easily, and hold any- 
thing from a weasel to a raccoon. 

It is sure, as it kills immediately, giving them 
no chance to escape by twisting or gnawing off 
their legs. It is not so quickly made and set as 
a steel trap, and never gives "Sneakums" induce- 
ments to approach it for future use. After the 
trap is set, place bark or something suitable be- 
tween the stakes above the drop and cover top 
of pen so as to compel the animal to enter in 
front, and at the same time ward off snow and 
sleet from interfering with its workings. Weight 
the drop pole on either side of pen by placing on 
chunks of wood or stone. 

There are several ways to set deadfalls, as 
different triggers are used. The manner in con- 


How TO Set. 99 

structing these traps is varied somewhat in the 
different sections. The illustration shown here 
is of a trap that is used to a considerable extent 
in all parts of America. The trapper for mar- 
ten in the far North, the opossum trapper of 
West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, the 
skunk trapper of the New England States and 
the mink trapper of the AVest have all used this 
trap with success. It is for the hundreds of 
young and inexperienced trappers that the dead- 
fall is shown here. 

The trigger as shown, that is the one extend- 
ing back into the pen, is all one piece. This trig- 
ger is usually cut from a bush and often re- 
quires some time to find one suited. If you in- 
tend to build a few traps of this kind it is well to 
be on the lookout in advance for suitable trig- 
gers. This trap is set with only two triggers, 
the one with the straight part extending back 
into the pen and the prong on which the "fall" 
is resting and the other trigger is driven into 
the ground so that it is only a little higher than 
the under log of the trap. 

This trap can be set with the triggers known 
as figure 4 if preferred. Coon, mink, opossum, 
skunk and marten are usually not hard to catch 
in deadfalls, although now and then an animal 
for some reason is extremely hard to catch. 

In building deadfalls it is best to split the 


I)i:adfalls and Snares. 

end of the pole fartherest from the pen or bait 
and drive the stake there. This will hold the up- 
per or ''fall" pole solid, so that there will be no 
danger of its turning of its own weight and 


* * * 

I enclose plan and description of a deadfall I 
have used with success on skunk and other fur 


animals, writes a trapper from Xew York State. 
iS'^ever having seen anything like it described I 
thought it might be a help to those using these 
traps. During November and December, 1897, 
I caught 11 skunk in one deadfall like this one. 
Stakes are driv^en in the ground to form the 
pen same as on figure 4 or other deadfall, but no 

How TO Set. 101 

brush or sticks should be kiid on top of pen as it 
would prevent the vertical stick from lifting up, 
A small log or board with stones on may be laid 
on pole for more weight. The pole may be from 
ten to fifteen feet long and about three inches in 
diameter. IVA 18 inches or more out of the 
ground and one-half inch in diameter; B 20 
inches, X one-half inch; C about 16 X f inches; 
D 20 X f inches; E same as AxV only not crotch ; 
F ^ inch. I\ope long enough to go around pole 
and over B and tie around C. D should be from 
1 to 3 inches above ground according to what is 
being trapped. Bait should be laid on ground 
or fastened to stake near middle of pen. 



If you have determined upon vour trapping 
ground it is best to build your traps in advance 
of the trapping season, so that they will become 
old and weather beaten. This, of course, is not 
necessary as traps are often built, baited and 
on the return of the trapper the following morn- 
ing game securely caught. While the above is 
often true, deadfalls can and should be built in 
advance of the trapping season. There are at 
least two reasons for this : first, it allows the 
traps to become weather l)eaten and game is not 
so suspicious; second, all the trapper has to do 
when the trapping season arrives is to visit and 
set his traps. 

Some object to deadfalls on the ground that 
they require lots of work to build and that a 
trapper's time is valuable at this season of the 
year. Such may be true of the amateur, but the 
professional trapper usually has much idle time 
in August, September and early October, when 
he is glad to look out for trapping grounds for 
the coming winter. It is a day's work for one 
man to build from eight to twelve deadfalls, de- 


When to Build. 103 

pending of course upon how convenient he finds 
the pole to make the fall. The other material is 
usually not hard to find or make. That is stakes, 
chunks and rocks. If 3^ou only build six or eight 
traps and cont^truct them right they are worth 
twice as many poorly built. When properly 
built they will last for years, requiring but little 
mending each fall at the opening of the trapping 
season. Taken all in all we do not know that a 
certain number of deadfalls take up any more 
time than an eqiial number of steel traps. In 
fact more deadfalls can be set in a day, after 
they are built, than steel traps. 

When it is stated that you will perhaps do as 
well at home as elsewhere, this, of course, de- 
pends upon where you are located, how many 
trappers there are in your section, etc. If there 
is but little to be caught then you had best go 
elsewhere, but trappers have been known in 
thickly settled sections to catch from f50 to 
|300 worth of fur in a season, lasting from No- 
vember 1 to March 15. Of course in the far 
north, where trapping can be carried on from 
October 15 to June 15, or eight months, the 
catch is much larger, and as the animals caught 
are more valuable, the catch of a single trapper 
is sometimes as high as fGOO to |1,000. 

The trapper who stays near home has the 
advantage of knowing the territory. If he was 

104 Deadfalls am» Sxauks. 

to visit a strange section, altho a good trapping 
locality, lie would not do so well as if he were 
ac(niainted with the locality and knew the loca- 
tions of the best dens. Then again his expenses 
are heavier if he goes into a strange section, yet 
If there is but .little game near your home, and 
you are going to make a business of trapping, 
go and look up a good trapping section. Under 
these conditions it is best for two or three to go 
together. There is no necessitj^ of carrying but 
little baggage other than y(mr gun, for at the 
season of the year that prospecting is done there 
is liut little difficulty in killing enough game to 
live on. 

After 3'ou have once found a good trapjiing 
section, and built your cabin, deadfalls and 
snares, you can go there fall after fall with your 
line of steel traps, resetting your deadfalls with 
but little repairs for years. You will also be- 
come better acquainted with the territory each 
season and will nmke larger catches. Do not 
think that you have caught all the game the first 
season, for generally upon your return the next 
fall you will find signs of game as numerous as 

In locating new trapping grounds, if two or 
three are together and it is a busy time in Sep- 
tember, let one of the party go in advance pros- 
])ecting. This will save much valuable time 

When to Build. 105 

Avlien you make the start for the fall aud winter 
trapping campaign. It will pay you to know 
where you are going before you make the final 



In determining- where to set deadfalls or lo- 
cate snares if you will keep in mind the dens each winter von have caught fur-bearing 
animals, or their tracks have often been seen in 
the snow or mud, and build your traps and con- 
struct snares at or near such places you are pret- 
ty sure to not go astray. 

The location, of course, depends largely upon 
what kind of game you are trying to catch. If 
mink or coon, there is no better place than along 
streams where there are dens. If there should 
be a small branch leading off from the main 
stream, at the mouth of this is often an excellent 
place to locate a trap. It should not be too near 
the Avater as a rise would damage or perhaps 
float off at least part of your trap. Sometimes 
farther up this snuill stream there are bluffs ajid 
rocks; at such places, if there are dens, is just 
the place to build deadfalls. If there are several 
dens, and the bluff extends along several hun- 
dred feet, it perhaps will pay to build two or 
three traps here. 

In cleared fields, woods or thickets skunk are 


Where to Build. 107 

found anywhere that there are dens you can con- 
struct a trap. While, as a rule, the thinly set- 
tled districts are the best trapping- sections, yet 
skunk, muskrat and red fox are found in greatest 
numbers in settled sections, while opossum, rac- 
coon and mink are found in fairly well settled 
districts. It is therefore not necessary that you 
should go to the wilderness to make fairly good 
catches. While the trapper in the wilderness 
has the advantage of no one disturbing his dead- 
falls, yet he has disadvantages. The trapper 
who means business need not go hundreds of 
miles away, but if he will build a line of traps 
along some stream where there are mink, or in 
the thickets and along rocky buffs for skunk, 
raccoon, opossum, etc., he will be surprised at 

In some sections land owners may not allow 
trapping, but usually they will, especially if you 
take the pains to ask before you commence build- 
ing or setting your traps. 

The fact that you have your traps scattered 
over a large territory gives you better chances 
of making good catches, for most animals travel 
quite a distance from night to night. You may 
have traps at some stream that is eight or ten 
miles from your home and a mink nmy come 
along that does most of its seeking for food miles 
farther up or down this stream, nearer, perhaps, 

108 Deadfalls and Snares. 

where it was raised, aud you get hiuL Tims you 
see by going only ten miles away you may catch 
animals that really live twenty. Just how far 
a mink may travel up or down a creek or river I 
do not know, but it is certain that they go many 
miles and traps may make a catch of a mink that 
lives many, many miles away. Of course along 
small streams they may not go so far. Often, 
however, they continue their travels from one 
stream to another. 

If you are an expert trapper you can very 
easily detect, if you are in a good locality, espe- 
cially if in the fall — September and October. 
These are the two months when the most pros- 
pecting is done. Going along streams at this 
season tracks are plainly seen and in the forests 
at dens signs, such as hair, bones and dung. Of- 
ten you will come upon signs where some bird 
has been devoured and you know that some ani- 
mal has been in the locality. Old trappers re'ad- 
ily detect all these signs and new ones can learn 
by experience. 

It is not absolutely necessary to build traps 
at or near dens. Some years ago, I remember 
when doing considerable trap])ing in Southern 
Ohio, I came upon a deadfall built near a small 
stream that ran thru a woods. I looked around 
for dens, but saw none. Why this trap had been 
built there was a puzzle to me. One day I hap- 

Where to Build. 109 

pened upon the owner of the trap and asked him 
what he expected to catch in that trap. 

In reply he pointed to a bush some rods dis- 
tant in which hung the carcasses of two opossum 
and one coon — caught in the trap. While there 
were no dens near, it was a favorite place for 
animals to cross or else they came tliere for wa- 
ter. This same trap was the means of this old 
trapper taking two or three animals each winter, 
while other traps at dens near caught less. There 
is much in knowing where to set traps, but keep 
your eyes open for signs and you will learn 
where to build traps and set snares sooner or 


* * * 

Yes, boys, the deadfall is a splendid trap if 
made right, says an Arkansas trapper. I will 
tell you how to make one that will catch every 
mink and coon that runs the creek. Take a pole 
four feet long and four inches through, next get 
a log six inches through and eight feet long. 
Use eight stakes and two switches. Use the 
figure four trigger, l)ut the notches are 
cut different. Both of the notches are cut on the 
top side of the long trigger and a notch cut in 
the upright trigger and down the long trigger. 
The paddle part is sixteen inches long. When 
the trap is set the paddle wants to be level and 
one-half inch higher than small logs, then your 


Where to Build. Ill 

two switches comes in this to keep the paddle 
from hitting- the bark on side logs. 

Next is where to set. If along a creek, find 
a place where the water is within three feet of 
the bank, set your trap up and down the creek 
at edge of water, dam up from back end of pad- 
dle to bank with brush or briars, then from front 
end into water three or four feet. You will find 
the upright trigger has to be a good deal longer 
than the notch trigger. You can use round 
trig-gers if you want to by nailing a shingle five 
inches wide on the long trigger stick. Be sure 
and have your paddle muddy if setting along 
creeks. You want to put a little stone back be- 
3"ond paddle, so when the trap falls it will not 
burst paddle. Now you have a trap easy made 
and sure to catch any animal that steps on pad- 
dle, which is five inches wide and sixteen long. 
You don't need any bait, but you can use bait by 
throwing it under paddle. This trap is hard to 
beat for small same. 

I make a deadfall that sets without bait, 
writes an Illinois trapper. It is made like any 
other only ditferent triggers. Set it across path, 
over or in front of den or remove a rail and set 
it in the corner of a fence where game goes thru. 

112 Deadfalls and Snaues. 

Use thread in dry weatber, fine wire for wet. Two 
loiis for bottom is better than one, make trijigers 
bigli enough to suit tlie animal you wish to 
catch ; if he hits the string or wire he is yours. 



Bait is sometimes difficult to get, but usually 
the trapper will get enough with his gun and 
steel traps to keep his line of deadfalls well 
baited, without difficult^'. In trapping, all ani- 
mals caught after the pelt is taken off should be 
hung up so that other animals cannot reach 
them, but will visit your traps. 

There are two objects in hanging up bait : 
First, other animals coming along are apt to 
eat them and not visit your deadfall; second, 
should you run out of bait you can cut a piece 
from the animal hanging u]), bait your trap and 
go to the next. While bait of this kind is not 
recommended, sometimes it comes to this or 
nothing. Fresh bait is what is wanted at all 
times, 3^et the trapper cannot always get what 
he knows is best and consequently must do the 
next best; Perhaps by his next visit he has bait 
in abundance. 

The writer has known trappers to use a piece 
of skunk, opossum, muskrat, coon, etc., that had 
been caught some weeks before and hung up in 
a sapling where it froze and on the next visit the 


114 Deadfalls axd Snares. 

trap hailed with skunk contained a skunk. This 
sliows (hat when an animal is ver}" hungry it is 
not very particuhir what it eats. 

In the earlj fall while food of all kinds is 
easy to find, any animal is harder to entice to 
hait and at this season bait should be fresh if 
the trapper exxjects to make profitable catches. 
The trapper sliould ahvays carry a gun, pistol 
or good revolver with which to help kill game 
to supply bait for his traps. Steel traps set 
along the line will also help to keep the supply 
of bait up at all times. If you are successful in 
securing a great deal of bait, more than will be 
used on that round, you will find it an excellent; 
idea to leave some at certain places where it 
can be secured on the next round should it be 

Bait may consist of any tough bit of meat, 
but ral)bit is an excellent bait. Quail or almost 
any l)ird is good. Chicken also makes good bait. 
Squirrel is all right. For mink, iish is excellent. 
^Nlice, frogs and muskrat can all be used. Re- 
meml)er that the fresher and bloodier the bait 
the better — animals will scent it much quicker. 
They are also fonder of fresh bait than that 
which has been killed for days or weeks as the 
case may be. 

In baiting it is important to see that the bait 
is on secure. It is a good idea to tie it on with 

The Proper Bait. 115 

strong thread or small cord. The amount of 
bait to put on a single trap is not so important. 
Most trappers use a rabbit in baiting ten traps 
or less; the head makes bait for one trap, each 
foreleg another, the back about three and each 
hind leg one, altho each hind leg can be cut to 
make bait for two traps. 

The si)indle or trigger is run thru the bait 
and should be fastened on trigger near the end 
as shown in illustration elsewhere. The secur- 
ing of bait on the trigger is an important thing. 
If it is not on securely and the trap is hard to 
get off, the animal may devour bait and the trap 
not fall. If the trigger is only sticking loosely 
in the bait, it is easy for an animal to steal the 
bait. Usually the observing trapper knows these 
things and are on their guard, but for those who 
are using deadfalls this season for the first 
time, more explicit explanation is necessary. 

The bait should extend back into the pen 
about a foot and the pen should be so constructed 
that the bait touches nowhere only on the trig- 
ger. The animal in eating the bait usually 
stands with its fore feet upon the under pole, or 
Just over it. In this condition it can readily be 
seen, that if its gnawing at the bait twists the 
trigger off the upright prop w^hat the conse- 
quences will be — the animal will be caught 
across the back. An animal standing in the 

116 Deadfalls and Snares. 

position just described win naturally pull down 
somewhat on the bait and in its ea.2^erne(?s to get 
the bait pulls and twists the spindle, or trigger, 
off the upright prop. 

It is a good idea to try the trigger. That is, 
place the triggers under the fall just the same 
as you would if they were baited and you were 
going to set the trap. By doing this you will 
find out about how you want to set the triggers 
so that they will work properly. There is much 
in being acquainted with the working of traps. 
Study them carefully and you will soon learn 
to be a successful trapper. 



If you find that your traps are "down" each 
time you visit them and the bait gone, the pen 
is perhaps too large and the animal, if a small 
one like a mink, is going inside to devour bait. 
Animals usually stand with fore feet upon lower 
log and reach into pen after bait, but at times 
they have been known to go inside. In this case 
the animal is not in danger as when the "fall" 
comes down the animal is not under it. If such 
is the case, that is, the animal entirely inside the 
pen, the trigger will be caught under the fall 
and the trapper knoAvs that whatever is molest- 
ing his trap is doing so from the inside. All 
that the trapper has to do is lessen the size of 
the pen. This can be done by placing small 
stones or chunks on the inside of the pen or by 
driving stakes on the inside. By doing this the 
outside appearance is not changed. 

If, on the other hand, the trigger, that is the 
long one or spindle, not the short prop, is pulled 
out each time and often carried several feet, the 
trap is set too hard to "fall" and should be set 
easier. If the prop, or upright piece, is cut 
square across the top, take your knife and round 


118 Deadfalls and Snares. 

off the edges so that the trigger will slip off 
easier. Again the pen may be torn down and 
tlie animal takes bait from the rear. Here is 
where it pays to build 'traps substantial. In 
such cases rebuild the pen, making it stronger. 
Should it be torn down on subsequent visits, the 
game is perhaps a fox. Of course if the pen has 
been torn down by some trapper or passing 
hunter, 3^ou can readil}' detect same by the man- 
ner in which it has been done. If the trapper is 
satisfied that it is an animal that is doing the 
mischief, he wants to plan carefulh^, and if he is 
an expert trapper, a steel trap or two will come 
into good play and the animal will be caught in 
the steel trap. The pen will not be torn down 

When traps are down note carefully the con- 
dition that they are in; see that the "fall" fits 
on the lower pole closely, and by the way, when 
building this is an important thing to notice — 
that the fall fits snugly on the lower or under 

If a snare or spring pole is up but nothing 
caught, simply reset. Should many snares be up 
"thrown" and no catches, the trouble should be 
located at once. The noose is probably too large 
or small or made of limber or too stiff string or 
wire, or maybe it is too securely favStened. When 
resetting, note all these carefully and experience 

Traps Knocked Off. 119 

will sooner or later enable you to set just right 
to make a catch. If a certain snare is bothered 
continually, it will do no harm to set a steel trap 
where you think chances best of taking the ani- 
mal. It matters but little to the trapper how 
the animal is caught, as it is his pelt that is 

In using the trip triggers with or without 
bait, the trapper should fasten the bait by either 
driving a peg through it and into the ground or 

In most instances the animal will throw the 
trap before getting to the bait, but it is well to 
take this precaution in case, for any reason, the 
animal should not step on the trip trigger at 

Sometimes a small animal may jump over the 
trip trigger in order to get the bait and in its 
endeavor to get bait will strike the trigger. The 
aniuml does not know that the trigger is dan- 
gerous, but now and then either steps or jumps 
over. Generally they step on the trigger, for if 
the trapper is "onto his job" the bait and trigger 
are so placed that the animal thinks the trip 
trigger is the place to put his foot. 

In using without bait the trigger is so ar- 
ranged that the animal rubs or steps on the trig- 
ger when entering or leaving the pen or if at a 
trail or runway when passing along. 



While the deadfall is good for most animals, 
there is no one trap that fills all requirements 
and in all places. Some animals may be shy of 
deadfalls that can be taken in spring poles, 
snares and steel traps. This trap is easily and 
cheaply constructed. It should be made near 
dens or where animals travel frequently. 

If a small bush is not growing handy, cut one. 
Drive a stake deeply in the ground, pull it out, 
stick the larger end of the bush cut into it. The 
explanation of this trap is as follows: 1, bait 
stick ; 2, trigger ; 3, noose made of wire or stout 
cord ; 4, stay wire made of wire or cord ; 5, bait ; 
6, spring pole. 

By noting carefully the illustration this trap 
can be built easily. The size of the bush or 
spring pole, of course, depends upon wfiat sized 
aninuils you are trapping. This trap will take 
small game such as mink, opossum, skunk, etc., 
or can be made large and strong enough to catch 
mountain lion or black bear. 

* * * 

The snare is made by building a round fence 
in a place where there is plenty of small trees. 


Spring Pole Snare. 


Select two about four inches apart for noose and 
snare entrance, and another long springy one for 

,w^^^ "^I'f^^-^rj^:^ (lAm., 


spring pole 6 or 7 feet long, bend this down and 
trim it. Have a noose made of limber wire or 
strong string and a cross piece. Having cut 


Deadfalls and Snares. 

notches in the sides of the trees for the same to 
tit, have it to sprini? easy. For snaring rabbits 
have the fence quite high. 

Observe the above description and you can 
readily make. Xo. 1 is the noose, No. 2 is spring 

small game snare. 

pole. No. 3 fence, No. 4 bait. This snare already 
explained can be made any time in the year while 
the dead fall can only be constructed when the 

ground isn't frozen. 

The snares can be either made of twine or 
wire. 3Iany fox and lynx snare trappers in the 
North use small brass wire. 

Spring Pole Snare. 


Snares work well in cold weather and if prop- 
erly constrncted are pretty sure catchers. 
A — Spring pole. 
B — Staple, 
C — Two small nails driven in tree, (Three 


inch nail head, end down, with snare looped at 
each end with a foot of slack between. As soon 
as the D — three inch nail is pulled down, it 
will slip past the nail at top end, when spring 
pole will instantly take up the slack, also the fox, 
to staple and does its work, ) 
E — Slack line or wire. 


Deadfalls and Snares. 

F — Loop should be 7 inches in diameter and 
bottom of loop ten inches from the j>r3iind. 

Kemarks — The nails should be driven above 
staple so it will pull straight down to release the 
snare fastening. 

A great many foxes have been caught in this 
country by the plan of the dravdng outlined, 


writes J. C. Hunter, of Canada. A — the snare, 
should be made of rabbit Avire, four or five 
strand twisted together. Should be long enough 
to make a loop about seven inches in diameter 
when set. Bottom side of snare should be about 
six inches from the ground. E — is a little stick, 
sharp at one end and split at the other, to stick 
in the ground and slip bottom of snare in split 
end, to hold snare steady. 

B — is catch to hohl down spring pole. C — 
is stake. D — is spring pole. Souje bend down 
a sapling for a spring pole, but we think the best 

Spring Pole Snare. 


way is to cut and trim up a small pole about ten 
feet lono;; fasten tlie l)i.i>- end under a root and 
bend it down over a. crotch, stake or small tree. 
Snare should be set on a summer sheep path, 
where it goes through the bushes. 


Stake might be driven down a foot or more 
back from the j^ath, where a branch of an ever- 
green bush would hang over it so as to hide it 
and a string long enough from stake or trigger to 
snare to rest over path. 

The setting of a snare is done thus : A good 
sound tamarac or other pole fifteen or twenty 
feet long is used for the tossing. The butt end 
of this must be five or six inches in diameter and 
the small end about three inches. A tree with 
a crotch in it is then selected to balance the pole 

126 Deadfalls and Snares. 

upon. Failing' to find such a tree in tlie proper 
place, an artificial fork is made by crossing two 
stout young birch or tamarac, firmly planted in 
the ground, and the two upper points tied to- 
gether six or ten inches from the top. The bal- 
ancing or tossing pole is lodged in this fork so 
that the part towards the butt would out-weigh 
a bear of two or three hundred pounds suspended 
from the small end. 

Xext a stout little birch or spruce is selected 
and a section of three or four cut off. From this 
all the branches are removed, except one, the 
small end is pointed and driven deep into the 
ground a few inches at one side of the bear road. 
The snare is made of three twisted strands of 
eighteen thread cod line and is firmly tied to the 
tossing pole. A few dried branches are stuck in 
the ground each side of the path, the pole is de- 
pressed so the very end is caught under the twig 
on the stick driven in the ground for that pur- 
pose and the noose is stiffened by rubbing balsam 
branches which leave enough gum to make it 
hold its shape. 

The noose is kept in the proper position (the 
bottom being about sixteen inches above the road 
and the diameter being about eleven inches by 
l)lades of dry grass looped to it and the ends let 
into a gash on sticks at each side, put there for 
that purpose. No green branches are used in 

Spring Pole Snare. 127 

the hedge about the road because this would 
make the bear suspicious. The snare is now 
complete and the hunter stands back and exam- 
ines it critically. His last act is to rub some 
beaver castor on the trunk of some tree standing 
near the road, ten or twelve feet from the snare. 
This is done on another tree at the same distance 
on the opposite side of the snare. 

Bears are attracted by the smell of the castor 
and rub themselves against the tree in the same 
way as a dog rubs on carrion. When finished 
rubbing on one tree he scents the other and in 
going to get at the fresh one tries to pass thru 
the snare. He feels the noose tighten about his 
neck and struggles ; this pulls the end of the toss- 
ing pole from under the branch trigger, up goes 
the pole and old Bruin with it. 

My way, according to a Massachusetts trap- 
per, to trap skunk without scenting, and it is 
successful, is to snare tliem. Use a spring pole 
and if one does not grow handy, cut one and set 
it up as firmly as possible about four or five feet 
from the burrow and to one side. Probably the 
ground is frozen and you Avill have to brace it 
up with logs or stones or perhaps lash it to a 
stump or root. When the top of the pole is bent 
down it should be caught under the end of a log 

128 Deadfalls and Snares. 

or rock on the opposite side of tlie hole so tbj 
it can easily be dislodged by an animal, eitbc 
going in or out of the burrow. 

Tlie snare or noose is attached to the sprir 
pole directl}' over the center of the burrows ar 
tlie bottom of the noose should be an inch and 
half or two inches from tlie ground to allow tl 
animal's feet to pass under it and his litt 
pointed nose to go thru the center. Set tl 
noose as closely over the entrance of the hole ( 
possible and one or two carefully arranged twij 
will keep it in place. 

Strong twine is better for the noose tlia 
large cord as the skunk is less liable to notice i 
AMien a skunk passes in or out of the hole tl 
noose becomes tightened about his neck and 
slight pull releases the sx)ring pole Avhich soo 
strangles him. 

While this may seem an elaborate descriptio 
of so simple a trap, still, like any other trap, 
set in a careless, half-hearted manner, it wi 
meet with indifferent success and, tho simpl 
the snare, Avith a little thought and ingenuit 
can be applied in almost any situation for tl 
capture of small game. 



Many of the boys, writes au Indiana trapper, 
have come forth with their particular snares and 
methods of malving same, all of which I believe 
are good, but most of them require to be baited, 
which is one bad feature as applied to certain 
districts, for such has been my experience that 
in many localities it is utterly impossible to get 
animals to take bait. This snare may be used 
as a blind or set with bait as your trapping 
grounds, or rather the animals, may require. 

It is very inexpensive and so simple any boy 
can make it. First get a strip of iron one-eighth 
inch thick, three-eighths or one-half wide. Cut 
it in nine inch lengths and bend in the shape of 
Fig. 2, having drilled a one-fourth inch hole in 
either end. Next secure some light sheet iron, 
or heavy tin, cut in pieces 2f inches by 5f inches 
for the pan, and drill a one-fourth inch hole in 
center of same as shown in Fig. 3. It is now a 
very easy matter to rivet the pan or Fig. 3 to 
Fig. 2. This done, take some 20 penny spikes 
and cut off the heads as per Fig. 1. 

Now brass, or preferably copper wire, can be 








Trail Set Snare. 131 

had on spools at most any hardware store, which 
is used for the loops, as it is so pliable yet suf- 
ficiently strong to hold any of the small fur 
bearers, as it is made in many sizes. Use the 
brass or copper wire only for the loops, as ordi- 
nary stove pipe wire is just the article for the 
finishino- of the snare. 

For a blind set to be placed in the run of the 
animals, make a doul)le loop, that is, two loops 
for each snare. Now, take a bunch of these 
with you and find the runs or follow the ravines 
and creeks where tliey feed. If you can find a 
tree in a favorable spot on their runs, take one 
of your headless spikes and drive in the base of 
the tree a few inches from the ground. 

Now take No. 2 with the pan riveted thereon 
and hook bent and over spike, driving spike into 
tree until pan is level and until there is just 
room enough to hook loop of wire over head of 
spike. (See illustration.) Dig out under pan 
so same can fall when stepped upon. Then se- 
cure a rock or chunk of sufticient weight and 
fasten to other end of wire. Throw this over 
limb of tree and hook loop over head of a spike, 
having first put No. 2 in place. 

Put one loop on one side of the pan and the 
other loop on the other side, so that an animal 
coming either way will step upon the pan to his 
sorrow. This done, drive a staple in tree over 


Deadfalls and Snares. 

wire running from spike to limb, which will pre- 
vent the animal being pulled over the limb and 


Having covered everything up with the nat- 
ural surroundings and left no signs, you may 
claim the first furrier that happens that way 
and he will be waiting for you. This snare may 

Trail Set Snare. 133 

also be used with the ordinary spring- pole by 
driving spike in a stake, then the stake in the 
ground, in which case it is best to make the 
usual V-shaped pen with stakes or stones, cover- 
ing same over at top and setting so the pan will 
be right in the mouth of the pen and the single 
loop just between pan and bait. In this way 
they tread upon the pan just before they reach 
the bait. 

You find this snare easily thrown. They 
will not cost you over three cents a piece, and 
any man can easily carry one hundred of them 
and not be half loaded. 

In many ways the snare is splendid for lynx. 
Here in Western Ontario, says a well known 
trapper, where the lynx seldom take bait, they 
may be taken quite easily in snares set on snow- 
shoe trails. Fig. 1 shows a wire snare set on 
such a trail. I go about it in the following man- 
ner: Having found a suitable place along the 
edge of some swamp or alder thicket, I cut a 
spruce or balsam tree, about ten or twelve feet 
long, and throw it across the trail. I press the 
tree down until the stem of the tree is about 
twenty inches above the trail, and make an open- 
ing in the trail by cutting a few of the limbs 
away on the under side of the trail. Then I set 

Fir. I. 





Tkail Set Snare. 135 

a couple of dead stakes on each side so as to 
leave the opening about ten inches wide and 
hang my snare between these stakes and directly 
under the stem of the tree. 

The snare should be about nine inches in 
diameter and should be fastened securely to the 
tree. It should also be fastened lightly to the 
stakes on either side, so it will not spring out 
of shape. The best way is to make a little split 
in the side of each stake, and fasten tlie snare 
with a very small twig stuck in the split stake, 

I make the snares of rabbit wire, about four 
or five plies thick, twisted. Some trap])ers pre- 
fer to use a cord. The dark colored codfish line 
is best, and it is best to use a spring pole snare, 
and Fig. 3 shows the method of tieing and fas- 
tening to the stakes. It will be seen that when 
the lynx passes his head through the snare he 
only needs to give a slight pull to open the slip 
knot and release the spring pole. 

To prevent the rabbits from biting a cord 
snare, rub it well with the dropping of the lynx 
or fox and also, never use any green wood other 
than spruce or balsam, as any fresh green wood 
is sure to attract the rabbits. You may also put 
a small piece of beaver castor along the trail 
on each side of the snare, and you will be more 
sure of the lynx, as beaver castor is very attrac- 
tive to these big cats. 


Deadfalls and Snares. 

We will now proceed to make another spring 
pole snare, altlio the one described before is 
more practical, says a Colorado trapper. It is 
made like the preceding one except the trigger, 
etc. This one is to be nsed on a runway with- 
out anv bait whatever. The illustration shows 


path snare. 

the trigger as it appears in the rnnway. No. 1 
is the trip stick; No. 2, the stay crotch; No. 
3, the trigger ; No. 4, the loop ; No. 5, the path- 
way, and No. G, the stay wire. 

The animal in coming on down the i^ath (5) 
passes its body or neck thru the loop made of 
stout soft insulated Avire (4) ; in passing it steps 

Trail Set Snare. 137 

on the trip stick (1) which settles with the ani- 
mal's weight, releasing the trigger (3) which in 
turn releases the stay wire (6) and jerks the loop 
(4) around the animal; the spring pole onto 
Avhich the stay-wire it attached lifts your game 
up into the air, choking it to death and placing 
it out of reach of other animals that would 
otherwise destroy your fur. A small notch cut 
in the stay crotch where the end of the trip stick 
rests will insure the trigger to be released. This 
will hold the trip stick firm at the end, making 
it move only at the end where the animal steps. 



This snare I consider good for such animals 
as will take bait. (8ee page 141.) 

No. 1 and 2, headless wire nails driven hori- 
zontally into tree about ten inches from ground. 

No. 3, a No. 10 or 12 wire nail with head 
used to catch under No. 1 and 2. 

No. 4, bait stick or trigger. No. 3 passes 
through No. 4. 

No. 5, bait, frog tied to bottom of No. 4. 

No. 6's snare, fastened to No. 3 by two half 
hitches, then fastened to No. 3 b^^ two half 
hitches, then fastened to seven or spring pole. 

No. 7, spring pole. 

Nos. 8, 8, small stakes driven in ground to 
form a pen. 

Nos. 9, 1), two small twigs split at top to hold 
snare loop in place. 

Nos. 1 and 2 should be about 4 inches apart. 

No. 3 goes through a gimlet hole in No. 4. 
About three inches from the top use any small 
round stick from ^ to 1 inch in thickness, not 
necessary to flatten No. 4 as in illustration. Use 
it natui-al bark on. From hole in No. 4 to bot- 
toni end should be about 7 inches. 


Rat Romwav. 




'! ?, 

No. 3 

NO. 4 

No. 5 



Deadfalls and SNArd:s. 

Snare loop about inches in front of bait, 
held in place by 9, 9, sliji;litl3' leaninjjj against 
8, 8. " 

It can be plainly seen that if an animal takes 
No. 5 in its jaAvs and tries to remove it, it moves 
out the bottom of No. 4, moving forward No, 


3 until, flip! up she goes. The top of No. 4 must 
be tight against the tree when set. 

No. 3 should just catch under No. 1 and 2, 
then it takes but | inch to pull on bait to spring 
it. Bait with frogs, fish, tainted meat for skunk, 
and pieces of rabbit, muskrat or bird, for mink. 

The lynx, like the wolverine, is not afraid 
of a snowshoe track, and will follow a line of 
rabbit snare for long distances, and wlien he 
sees a bunny hanging up, he, without the least 
com])un(tion, ai)propriates it to himself, hj 
right of discovery. 

When he does this once he will come again 

Bait Set Snare. 


and the Indian Inmter, knowing this, at once 
sets a snare for "Mister Cat." Sometimes when 
the thief has left a portion of the rabbit, a 



branch house is built up against the trunk of 
<ome tree, the remains of the rabbit placed at 
the back and tlie snare set at the doorway. 
A stout birch stick is cut al)out three or four 

142 Deadfalls and Snares. 

feet long and lodged on a forked stick at each 
side of the door and about two and a half feet 
high. To the middle of this crossbar the end of 
the, twine is tied; No. 9 Holland is generally 
used, or No. G thread cod line. This is gummed 
by rubbing balsam branches up and down the 
twine in the same way as the bear snare. The 
noose is held in shape in one or two places at 
each side by a light strand of wood or blade of 
grass and a couple of small dry sticks are placed 
upright under the snare to prevent the cat from 
passing beneath. 

The loop is almost as large as for a bear and 
as high from the ground, if not higher. The 
lynx has long legs and carries his head straight 
in front of him and takes a snare by pushing 
thru it, or by a rush, never crouching and then 

As the resort of rabbits is a young growth 
of country, there are also lynx in the greatest 
numbers. Rabbits and partridges are their prin- 
cipal food. When the Indian enters a new piece 
of country to set rabbit snares to support his 
wife and family and sees signs of lynx, he com- 
bines the two kinds of hunting and as he goes 
along, once in a while, he bars his snowshoe 
track by placing a lynx snare in the way. The 
lynx are fond of the smell of castor, as indeed 
are most animals, so the hunter rubs a little on 

Bait Set Snare. 143 

a tree at each side of his snare for the cat to 
rub against when he comes that way. 

The snare is never tied to anything immov- 
able, as they are very powerful and would break 
the twine. As soon as the noose tightens the 
cross piece comes readily away from the sup- 
ports and the cat springs to one side. The stick, 
however, either knocks him a blow or gets 
tangled in his legs. This he tries several times, 
but with the same result, that bothersome stick 
is alwaj-s hanging to his neck. About the last 
effort he makes to free himself is to ascend a 
tree. This, however, is nearly always fatal, for 
after he gets up a certain distance this trouble 
some stick is sure to get fast back of some limb. 
The lynx by this time, having become a pretty 
cross cat, makes matters worse and the hunter 
finds him hanging dead, at times twenty or thirty 
feet from the earth. 



This trap is put to various uses. The be- 
ginner usually has one or two with which he 
traps for rabbits. In fact they are great for that 
for the animal is not injured, Avhich is often the 
case when shot or caught by dogs. Kabbits 
caught in box traps are therefore the best for 

Tlie trapper who wants to secure fur-bearers 
alive to sell to parks, menageries or to start a 
''fur ranch" usually uses the box trap. 

The size for rabbits is about 30 inches long 
by 5 wide and 6 high. The boards can be of any 
kind but pine, poplar, etc., being light is much 
used. The boards need onlj be a half inch thick. 
To make a trap you will need four pieces 30 
inches long; two of these for the sides should be 
six inches wide; the other two for top and bot- 
tom should be 5 inches. These pieces should be 
nailed on the top and bottom of the sides. This 
will make the inside of the trap six inches high 
by four wide. It is best to have your trap nar- 
row so that the animal you are trapping cannot 
turn in the trap. 


The Box Trap. 


In one end of the trap wires or small iron 
rods should be placed (see illustration). These 
should be about an inch apart. In the other 
end the door is constructed. This can be made 
out of wire also. The bottom of door should 
strike about eight inches inside. It will be seen 
that an animal pushing against the door, from 


the outside, raises it, but once on the inside the 
more they push against it the tighter it becomes. 

The trap can be set at holes where game is 
known to be, or can be placed where game fre- 
quents and baited. If bait is used place a little 
prop under the door and place bait back in trap 
a foot or more. Bait to use of course depending 
upon what you are trax)ping. 

The trap described is about right size for the 
common rabbit and mink. For skunk and opos- 
sum a trap a little larger will be required. 

For mink and other animals that are gnaw- 

146 Deadfalls and Snares. 

ers the traps should be visited daily for they may 
gnaw and escape. If impossible to visit traps 
daily they should be lined with tin. 

In many places these traps, with a door at 
each end, are used for catching- muskrat. They 
are set in their dens under water and either tied 
or weighted down. The rats are caught either 
going in or leaving. 

In making these traps the beginner is apt to 
make them too wide — so the animal can turn 
within. This is a mistake for it gives the game 
more freedom and room to gnaw to liberty. 

The animal simply goes in and is there until 
the trapper comes along and removes the game. 
Skunk can be drowned when caught in this trap 
without scenting if the trapper knows how to go 
about it. 

The trap should be handled carefully. Take 
to water sufficiently deep to cover the trap and 
slowly sink and then either weight the trap or 
hold down until the animal is drowned. 

The box trap is a humane trap if visited 
daily. They are rather unhandy to carry about 
and few trappers want many, yet under certain 
conditions they are very useful. They can be 
made during idle time. For mink and other shy 
animals they should be handled as little as pos- 
sible They should be made of old boards or at 
least avoid all appearances of newness. 

The Box Trap. 147 

Some sections saplings to make deadfalls 
cannot be had and for the benefit of snch, a 
wooden trap, three feet long- and six inches wide 
and deep, is a good manner to take nuiskrat, 
writes a Western trapper. The boards can be 
cut out of any old lumber. In each end is a wire 
door, hung on hinges at the top. These doors 
rise at the slightest push on the outside, but will 
not open from the inside. TJie trap is sunk in 
the water at the entrance to the den and is fas- 
tened there. A muskrat in entering or leaving 
the den is sure to enter the trap. 

The animal, of course, could gnaw out, but 
will drown before it has time to accomplish this. 
Several rats are often taken, where they are nu- 
merous, in a night. Traps of this kind can be 
used to best advantage in lakes and ponds or 
where the heighth of the stream does not vary 
much. If they are set along creeks and rivers 
you want to fasten them securely or take them 
up before heavy rains, as they are almost sure to 

be washed away. 

* * * 

I see in a recent number where George Wal- 
ker wanted some one to tell through H-T-T how 
to make box trap to catch muskrat. Here is a 
good way : 

First take four boards 30 inches long, nail 
together leaving both ends open. Next a small 

148 Deadfalls a\d Snares. 

gate, consisting of a square piece of wood sup- 
plied Avith a few stiff wires is then pivoted in- 
side of each opening so as to work freely and fall 
easily when raised. The l)ait is fastened inside 
the center of the box. The animal in quest of 
the bait finds an easy entrance, as the wires lift 
at slight pressure, but the exit after the gate has 
closed is so difficult that escape is almost beyond 
question. To insure further strength it is ad- 
visable to connect the lower ends of the wires by 
a cross piece of fine wire twisted about each. If 
you have good luck you can catch two and three 
in this trap each night. Set in two or three 
inches of water where muskrat frequents, or set 
in skunk dens. 



This trap is used with great success for 
catching wild turlvcy, pheasants, quail and other 
feathered game. In some states the law forbids 
the use of this and similar traps. 

The trap is built like an ordinary rail pen. 
In fact, some use small rails when constructing 
this trap for wild turkey, while others build of 
small straight poles. The pen is usually six 
feet or more square and about three high. The 
"coop" is stronger if drawn in from bottom to 
top (see illustration). The top must be cov- 
ered and weighted. 

A ditch is now dug about a foot wide. This 
ditch should begin about three feet from coop 
and lead within. Corn or other grain is scat- 
tered on the outside and in the trench leading 
into the coop. On the inside considerable should 
be scattered in the leaves and small but short 

The turkeys once on the inside will eat the 
grain and scratch among the leaves which gen- 
erally partly fill the trench and as the birds are 
usually looking up, when not eating, they do not 
think of the trench thru which they entered. 



Deadfalls and Snakes. 

The same trap will catch quail, but of course 
is built much smaller. About three feet square 
beinji lari>e euoui^h and a foot hioli is sufficient. 
H^ome have built ([uail coops out of cornstalks 
and report catches. 

The quail coop should have the ditch leading 
to the inside the same as described for turkey. 


Of course the ditch should be much suialler — 
only large enough for one bird to enter at a time. 
On the inside of coo]) it is a good idea to lay a 
board six inclies or wider over the ditch. The 
bait shouhl be wheat or other small grain or 
seeds that the birds like. Scatter thinly on the 
outside and in the trench, but on the inside 

The Coop Trap. 161 

place more liberally. Chaff or leaves slioiild be 
placed on the inside so that the birds in scratch- 
ing for the grain will partly fill up the hole 
thru which they came. 

Quail, turkey and other feathered game once 
on the inside and after eating the bait never 
think of going down into the ditch and out, but 
walk round and round the cooj) looking thru 
the chinks and trying to escape. 

The largest catches are made by baiting 
where the birds frequent for some days or even 
weeks before trying to make a catch. It is well 
to make the coops long in advance so that the 
birds will be accustomed to them, especially wild 

These traps are some times used with the 
figure 4 trigger, but when thus set seldom more 
than one or two birds are caught at a time. 



This method of catching game and fur bear- 
ing animals is not much used, as the labor in 
connection with making a pit trap is consider- 
able. The method, however, is an excellent one 
for taking some of the larger animals, especially 
wlien they are wanted for parks, menageries, 
etc., uninjured. 

The pit should be several feet deep and l)ait 
placed as shown. Another way is to cover the 
top with rotten limbs, leaves, etc., and place the 
bait on this. The animal in trying to secure the 
bait breaks thru. 

The dirt from the pit sliould be removed in 
baskets. Catches are made by digging a pit 
across animal runways or trails. Wlien the 
ground is not frozen or during rainy weather it 
is well to place a board several inches wide at 
top. The animal in going over its usual trail 
steps upon the frail covering and falls thru. 

Wliile tlie pit trap is mostly used for captur- 
ing large game, it can be used to advantage for 
taking umny of the smaller fur bearers. 

AVhere muskrat are numerous, instead of 


The Pit Trap. 


dii>ging- a pit, secure a box about three feet deep. 
Tlie width and length make no difference. Place 
a few flat rocks in the bottom and place in the 
water where rats frequent. Make the box solid. 
The box must be water tight. The weight should 
bring the top of box to within a few inches of 
water. A couple of boards or chunks should 
be so placed that the rats will climb up them 

■ft- ^,, " J,. 


and to the box along the edge of which the bait 
is placed. 

The pit trap can be used where skunk and 
other animals frequent. Bait the place for some 
dajs before the pit is dug. 

If the pit is to be used without bait, then 
find the runways of the aninuil and dig the pit. 
While some animals ma^^ not be shy, if a little 
fresh dirt is lying around, yet it is best to be 
V'Gry careful and carry all earth taken out of 

154 Deadfalls and Sxarls. 

pit a few rods to one side. Pits of this l^iud 
should he several feet deep. 

The success the huuter or trapper has in 
using this method will depend largely upon his 
knowledge of the game he is after. Unless the 
animal or animals are wanted alive, the work to 
^make a pit is too great and the chances of a 
catch never certain. This way is not practicable 
under ordinary circumstances, yet where the 
game is wanted alive and sound, is worth trying. 



In some localities there are not many dens 
and trappers make use of about all when trap- 
ping that section, but in other parts of the 
country dens are so numerous that to place a 
trap at each is impossible. In states where 
groundhogs (woodchucks), are numerous there 
are often a hundred or more dens along a single 
bluff or rocky bank. To have enough steel traps 
to set one at each is something few trappers do, 
yet two or three deadfalls in connection with a 
line of steel traps is all that is necessary and 
the trapper can moye on to the next bluff where 
dens are numerous and set another trap or two. 
As a rule it is where there are many dens, close 
together, that deadfalls make the best catches, 
yet when you find a good den anywhere, set or 
construct a deadfall. 

All trappers have noticed when tracking ani- 
mals in the snow that they visit nearly every den 
along their route, not always going in but just 
sticking their head in. When thus investigat- 
ing, the animal smells the bait and is hungry (as 
nine times out of ten the animal is hunting some- 


166 Deadfalls and Snares. 

thing to eat), and if jour traj) is set properly 
you are reasonabl}' sure to make a catch. 

In the North, Canada, Ahiska and some of 
the states on the Canadian border where trap- 
ping is made a business, it is no uncommon thing 
for one man to have as many as one hundred and 
fifty traps and some Imve out twice that many, 
or three hundred. ^Marten trappers in the track- 
less forests often blaze out a route fifty or more 
miles in length, building shelters along the line 
where nights are spent. 

The trapper who only spends a few hours 
each day at trapping and lives in thickl}' settled 
districts will find that it is hard for him to lo- 
cate suitable places perhaps for more than thirty 
to fifty traps, yet if these will be looked at prop- 
erly during the season the catch will justify the 
time and labor in building. 

The number of deadfalls and snares that each 
trai)per should construct in his section must 
largely be determined by himself, depending 
upon how large a territory he has to trap over 
witliout running into other trappers' grounds. 
It will be little use to build traps where there 
are other trappei-s as trouble will occur, traps 
may be torn to pieces, etc. Yet there are many 
good places to build traps in your immediate lo- 
cality no doubt. If there are any creeks near 
and woods along the banks 3'ou will find good 

Number of Traps. 157 

places at both creek and in the woods. If in sec- 
tions where there is no forest, like some western 
states, deadfalls trapping may be difficult from 
the fact that there is nothing- to build them with. 

In such cases the portable traps, (described 
elsewhere) in this book, can i)robably be used to 
advantage, but best of all in such places is steel 

The number of deadfalls and snares that a 
trapper can attend to is large, from the fact that 
the game is killed and as the weather is usually 
cold, the traps need not be looked at only about 
twice each week. 

In the North, many trappers have such long 
lines that they do not get over them only once a 
week. The trouble where deadfalls are only 
looked at once in seven days is that other ani- 
mals are apt to find the game and may injure 
the fur, or even destroy the pelt. 

Where snares with spring pole attachment 
are used, and the weather is cold, the trapper 
need not make the rounds only once a week, as 
all animals will be suspended in the air and out 
of the reach of flesh eaters. 

South of 40 degrees where the weather is not 
severe, it is policy to look at traps at least twice 
a week, and in the extreme South teh trapper 
should make his rounds every day. 

It will thus be seen that a trapper in the 

158 Deadfalls and Snares. 

North can attend more deadfalls and snares than 
one in the South or even in the Central States. 
No trapper should have more traps or longer 
lines than he can properly attend to. The fur 
bearing animals are none too mimerons without 
having tliem caught and their pelts and fur 
spoiled before the arrival of the trapper. 



The proper season to begin trapping is when 
cold Aveather comes. The old saying that fur is 
good any month that has an "r" in does not 
hold good except in the North. Even there Sep- 
tember is too early to begin, yet muskrat and 
skunk are worth something as well as other furs. 
In the spring April is the last month with an 
"r." In most sections muskrat, bear, beaver, 
badger and otter are good all thru April, but 
other animals began shedding weeks before. 

The rule for trappers to follow is to put off 
trapping in the fall until nights are frostly and 
the ground freezes. 

Generally speaking in Canada and the more 
Northern States trappers can begin about No- 
vember 1 and should cease March 1, with the ex- 
ception of water animals, l)ear and badger, 
which may be trapped a month later. In the 
Central and Southern States trappers should 
not begin so early and should leave off in the 
spring fi'om one to four weeks sooner — depend- 
ing upon how far South tlie,y are located. 

At the interior Hudson Bay posts, where 

160 Deadfalls and Snares. 

their word is law, October 25 is appointed to 
begin and May 25th to quit hunting and trap- 
ping with the exception of bear, which are con- 
sidered prime up to June 10. liemember that 
the above dates are for the interior or Northern 
H. B. Posts, which are located hundreds of 
nliles north of the boundary between the United 
States and Canada. 

The skunk is the first animal to become 
prime, then the coon, marten, fisher, mink and 
fox, but the latter does not become strictly prime 
until after a few days of snow, says an old 
jNIaine trapper. Kats and beayer are late in 
priming up as well as otter and mink, and tho 
the mink is not strictly a land animal, it be- 
comes prime about with the later land animals. 
The bear, which is strictly a land animal, is not 
in good fur until snow comes and not strictly 
prime until February or March. 

With the first frosts and cool days many 
trappers begin setting and baiting their traps. 
That it is easier to catch certain kinds of fur- 
bearing animals early in the season is known to 
most trappers and for this reason trapping in 
most localities is done too early in the season. 

Some years ago when trapping Avas done eyen 
earlier than now, we examined mink skins that 

When to Trap. 161 

were classed as No. 4 and worth 10 or 15 cents, 
that, had they been allowed to live a few weeks 
longer, their hides woilld have been No. 1 and 
worth, according to locality, from .fl.50 to f3.50 
each. This early trapping is a loss to the trap- 
per if they will only pause and think. There are 
only so many animals in a locality to be caught 
each winter and why catch them before their 
fur is prime? 

In the latitude of Southern Ohio, Indiana, 
Illinois, etc., skunk caught in the month of Oc- 
tober are graded back from one to three grades 
(and even sometimes into trash), where if they 
were not caught until November 15th how dif- 
ferent would be the classification. The same is 
true of opossum, mink, muskrat, coon, fox, etc. 

Skunk are one of the animals that become 
prime first each fall. The date that they become 
prime depends much on the weather. Fifteen 
years ago, when trapping in Southern Ohio, the 
writer has sold skunk at winter prices caught as 
early as October IC, while other seasons those 
caught the 7th of November, or three weeks 
later, blued and were graded back. Am glad to 
say that years ago I learned not to put out traps 
until November. 

That the weather has mucli to do with the 

162 Deadfalls and Snares. 

priming- of furs and pelts there is no question. 
If the fall is colder than nsnal the furs will be- 
come prime sooner, while if the freezing weather 
is later the i)elts will be later in "priming up." 

In the sections where weasel turn white 
(then called ermine 1»y many), trappers have a 
good guide. When they become white they are 
prime and so are most other land animals. In 
fact, some are fairly good a week or two before. 

When a pelt is put on the stretcher and be- 
comes l)lue in a few days it is far from prime 
and will grade no better than Xo. 2. If the pelt 
turns black the chances are that the pelt will 
grade Xo. 3 or 4, In the case of mink, when 
dark spots only appear on the pelt, it is not quite 

Trappers and hunters should remember that 
no pelt is prime or Xo. 1 when it turns the least 
blue. Opossum skins seldom turn blue even if 
caught early — most other skins do. 


season's catch. 

The reason that many trappers make small 
catches, each season, is from the fact that they 
spend only an hour or so each day at trapping, 
while at most other business the party devotes 
the entire day. The trapper who looks out his 
grounds some weeks in advance of the trapping 
season is not idling his time away. He should 
also have a line of traps constructed in advance 
of the trapping season. 

There is a fascination connected with trap- 
ping that fills one with a strange feeling when 
all alone constructing deadfalls and snares or 
on the rounds to see what success has been 
yours. I have often visited traps of old trap- 
pers, where from two to five carcasses were 
hanging from a nearby sapling. 

There are several instances on record where 
two animals have been caught in one deadfall 
at the same time. A well-known trapper of Ohio 
claims to have caught three skunk in one dead- 
fall at one time a few years since. Whether such 
is an actual fact or not we are unable to say. 


164 Deadfalls and Snares. 

The cases on record where two animals have 
been caught are so well substantiated that there 
is little room left to doubt the truth of same. 

The catching of two animals at the same 
time is not such an extraordinary occurrence as 
many, at first, think. If two animals should 
come along at the same time and, smelling the 
bait, begin a meal, the result is easily seen. 

While trapping with deadfalls is a humane 
way of catching fur-bearing animals, another 
thing in their favor is that skunk are usually 
killed without "perfuming" themselves, trap and 
trapper as well. Then, again, if once caught, 
there is no getting away. 

Trappers in the forest always have the nec- 
essary tools, axe or heavy hatchet and knife, 
with which to build a deadfall, while their steel 
traps umy all be exhausted and none set within 
miles. A deadfall is built and perhaps on the 
trapper's return an animal is lying dead be- 
tween the poles. 

» * * 

During extreme cold weather there is but 
little use to look at traps set for skunk, raccoon, 
etc., as they do not travel. Before a thaw or 
Avarm spell the entire line should be gone over 
and all old bait removed and replaced with fresh 

Like many another trapper you \y\]\ visit 

Season's Catch. 165 

your traps time after time without cateliiug' 
much if an^' fur, yet if jonv traps are properly 
constructed aud are spread over a kirge area, 
you will catch considerable fur during the sea- 

Deadfalls and snares can he strung out for 
miles and while they should be looked at every 
other day, in good trapping weather, they can 
be neglected, if the trapper cannot get around 
more than twice a week, without game escaping. 
If you visit your traps frequently there will be 
no loss from injury to fur. While it is true, 
should a small animal be caught in a heavy trap, 
one built for much larger game, it will be con- 
siderably flattened out, yet the skin or fur is 
not damaged. There is nothing to damage jonr 
catch, in most sections, unless you do not visit 
your traps often enough in warm weather, when 
they may be faintlj'^ tainted. Most trapping is 
done, however, in cool weather, but occasionally 
there may come a warm spell when skins be- 
come tainted. If found in such condition skin 
as soon as possible and place upon boards or 

Another thing greatly to the advantage of 
the deadfall and snare trapper is the fact that 
a trapper never knows just when he will be able 
to visit his traps again; the unexpected often 
happens, and should it be a day or so longer than 

166 Deadfalls and Snakes. 

expected the deadfall or snare still securely 
holds the game. 

As all experienced trappers know, the first 
night of a cold spell is a splendid one for ani- 
mals to travel (they seem forewarned about the 
weather) and a good catch is the result. If the 
trapper is a ^'weather prophet'' his traps are 
all freshly baited and in order, for this is the 
time that game is on the move — often looking 
up new and warm dens and generally hungiy. 
Should the next days be cold and stormy the 
trapper should get over the line as promptly as 
possible. After once getting over the line after 
the "cold spell," it is not so important that traps 
be looked at for some days again. 

The successful trapper will always be on the 
watch of the weather. Some animals, it is true, 
travel during the coldest weather, but there are 
manj' that do not, so that the trapper who sees 
that his deadfalls are freshly baited when the 
signs point to warmer weather. After days and 
nights of severe weather most animals are hun- 
gry and when the weather moderates they are 

on the move. 

» * *• 

"I have more than one hundred deadfalls and 
catcli large numbers of skunk,'' writes a Con- 
necticut trai)per. "A few years ago a trapper 
within two miles of here caught more than 60 

Season's Catch. 167 

coon in deadfalls. Since then coon have been 
rather scarce, but I am lioing to try them this 
coming fall. I prefer red squirrel for skunk 
bait to anything' else, and extract of valerian for 
scent. Try it, trapper — it can't be beat. I have 
used it for twenty years and can catch my share 

every time.'' 

* * * 

The trapper that makes the largest catches 
usually is the one that has deadfalls and snares 
in addition to steel traps. Kecently two trap- 
pers wrote of their season's catch ajad added 
that a good proportion was caught in deadfalls 
and snares. These trappers were located in 
Western Canada; marten 54, lynx 12, mink 19, 
ermine 71, wild cat 11, foxes 18. 

While these trappers did not say, it is pre- 
sumed that the foxes were caught in snares or 
steel traps, for it is seldom that one is caught 
in a deadfall. In Canada and the New England 
States, where foxes are plentiful, the snare is 
used to a considerable extent. 

Skunk, mink, ermine, weasel and opossum 
are easily caught in deadfalls. One trapper in 
a southern state is said to have caught 94 mink, 
besides 38 coon and 57 opossum, in 28 deadfalls, 
from November 25tli to February 25th, or three 



Early in September, 1906, the editor spent a 
foiiple of days at liis liome in Soiitliern Ohio, 
wliere in the '80's along and near a small stream 
known as Kyger Creek, considerable trapping 
was done. 

If readers are curious and have a good, large 
map of Ohio, and look at the southern border, 
some fifty miles above the mouth of the Scioto 
river, on a direct line or about double that by 
following the winding of the river, they will find 
Kyger Creek. The stream is about ten" miles 
long and em'pties into the Ohio river below the 
village of Cheshire. The country is rather rough 
and rocky, but the timber has mainly disap- 

A quarter of a century ago, opossum, musk- 
rat, skunk, and fox were more numerous than 
now. ^link at that time were few, but in the 
earh' 'SO's they seemed to become fairly plentiful 
all at once. The high price has caused consider- 
able trapping, and their numl)er hns decreased 
of recent years. 

In trapping we found deadfalls, properly 

General Information. 169 

made, set and baited to be an excellent trap for 
mink, skunk and opossum. As there were few 
coon where we were trapping', but few were 
caught, yet an old trapper nearby caught sev- 
eral in both deadfalls and steel traps each sea- 

There is no doubt but that a trapper who ex- 
pects to remain months at the same place should 
have a few deadfalls. These traps, like steel 
traps, to make catches, do not depend upon num- 
bers so much as correct and careful construction 
and setting. A half dozen deadfalls located at 
the right places, carefully built and properly set, 
are worth probably as much as fifty carelessly 
constructed and located at haphazard. 

Some object to deadfalls because fox are sel- 
dom caught in them. It is true that few fox are 
taken in deadfalls, although in the far North 
some are, and especially Arctic and White fox. 

The deadfall trapper, however, who gives 
care and attention to his traps finds them fur 
takers. They can be built small for weasel or 
a little larger for mink, nnirten and civet cat; or 
larger for opossum and skunk; still heavier for 
coon and wild cat and even to a size that kills 

Some trappers find the mink hard to catch. 
At some seasons they are easy to take in dead- 
falls. Long in the '80's in five winters eight 

170 Deadfalls axd Snares. 

Tiiiiik Avere caught in one deadfall. The first 
winter one was caught; second, two; third, 
three; fourth and fifth, each one. 

If our memory serves us right, the trap was 
first built in the fall of 1887, and was'located on 
the bank about ten feet to the left of a sycamore, 
which at that time was standing. There was a 
den under the tree entering near the water, with 
an outlet on the bank only a few feet from the 
trap, and near Avhere the pen and bait were lo- 

This deadfall was built much like the illus- 
tration shown here. While the fall was of hick- 
ory, not a vestige remained when looking at the 
place in September, 1906. 

The pen should be built strong and tight so 
that the animal will not tear it to pieces and get 
at the bait from the rear. The "fall" or top pole 
can be of any kind of wood, but hickory, oak, 
beech, maple, and other heavy wood are all good. 
The pole should be heavy enough to kill the ani- 
mal without placing any weights on it. When 
l)nilding it is a good idea to let the top pole ex- 
tend about a couple of feet beyond the pen. This 
will give more weight on the animal when the 
trap falls. 

T'he two piece triggers may work hard, espe- 
cially if the log used for the fall has rough bark 
on. In this case it miiilit be well to smoothe 


172 Deadfalls and Snares. 

with your axe or batcliet. In setting with the 
two piece trigger make them out of as hard wood 
as can be found. The h)ng piece can be slightly 
lUittened on the under side, or the side on which 
the upper end of the upright or prop sets. The 
prop should be cut square on the lower end while 
the upper end might be a little rounding, as this 
will tend to make the top or bait trigger slip off 

In setting raise up the top pole and hold in 
position with the knee. This gives both hands 
free to adjust the triggers. When you think 
you have them right, gradually let the weight off 
your knee and then try the trigger. You will' 
soon learn about how they are to be set. 

The bait should be tied on or the bait trig- 
ger may have a prong on to hold the bait. If 
3^011 find the bait gone and the trap still up the 
chances are that it was set too hard and the ani- 
mal stole the bait. 

Of late years in some sections, mice have been 
very troublesome, eating the bait. In other 
places birds are bait stealers, and for this reason 
it is best to set traps rather hard to throw. 

The location of a deadfall has much to do 
with the catch. Old trappers know if tliey were 
to set a steel trap in a place not frequented by 
fur bearers that their catch would be next to 

General Information. 173 

nothing. The same applies to all sets, whether 
steel traps, snares or deadfalls. 

In the illustration it will be noticed that the 
opening- or the side which the animal enters for 
bait is facing the creek. When building these' 
traps it will be found best to leave the open side 
toward the water if trapping for mink or coon, 
as they generally leave the edge of the water go- 
ing directly to dens along and near the bank. 

The under log in the deadfall shown does not 
extend but a few inches beyond the two end 
stakes. It should extend eight or ten inches be- 
yond. The four stakes at pen must be of suffi- 
cient length that when the trap is set they ex- 
tend above the top or fall pole. If they did not, 
the trap in falling, might catch on the end of one 
of the stakes and not go down. 

Along streams these traps need not be close. 
A couple to the mile is plenty. Of course, if 
there are places where dens are numerous more 
can be built to advantage, while along other 
stretches of water it may be useless to build them 
at all. It all depends upon whether animals 
travel there. You cannot catch them in any 
kind of trap if they are not there. 

For opossum, skunk, mink, civet cat, coon, 
ermine, etc., find where the animals live or where 
they go frequently searching for food. If build- 
ing where there are dens, either locate within a 

174 Deadfalls and Snares. 

few feet of the one that appears best or just otf 
the path that the animal takes in goino; from one 
to the other. Have the open part next to path 
and say only three feet off. 

Marten trappers, while placing traps on high 
ground, do not pay so much attention to dens 
and paths, for these animals spend much time in 
trees looking for squirrels, birds, etc., but go 
through the forest "spotting a line" and locate a 
deadfall in likely ground about every 200 yards, 
or about 8 to the mile. 



^Iiieli importance should be attached to the 
skinniuj^' and stretching of all kinds of skins so 
as to command the highest commercial value. 
The fisher, otter, foxes, l.ynx, marten, mink, er- 
mine, civet, cats and skunk should be cased, that 
is, taken off whole. 

Commence with the knife in the center of one 
hind foot and slit up the inside of the leg, up to 
and around the vent and down the other leg in 
a like manner. Cut around the vent, taking 
care not to cut the lumps or glands in which 
the musk of certain animals is secreted, then 
strip the skin from the bone of the tail with 
the aid of a split stick gripped firmly in the 
hand while the thumb of the other hand presses 
against the animaTs back just above. ]Make no 
other slits in the skin except in the case of the 
skunk and otter, whose tails require to be split, 
spread, and tacked on a board. 

Turn the skin back over the bod}^, leaving 
the pelt side out and the fur side inward, and 
by cutting a few ligaments, it will peel off very 
readily. Care should be taken to cut closely 



Deadfalls and Snares. 

around the nose, ears and lips, so as not to tear 
the skin. Have a board made about the size 
and shape of the three-board stretcher, only not 
split in halves. This board is to put the skin 
over in order to hold it better while removing 
particles of fat and flesh which adheres to it 

Single Board 

ThJ*ee Board Stretcher 


while skinning, which can be done Avith a blunt- 
edged knife, by scraping the skin from the tail 
down toward tlie nose — the direction in which 
the hair roots grow — never scrape up the other 
way or you will injure the fiber of the skin, and 
care should be taken not to scrape too hard, for 
if the skin fiber is injured its value is decreased. 

Skinning and Stretching. 177 

Now, having been thoroughly "fleshed," as 
the above process is called, the skin is ready for 
stretching, which is done by inserting the two 
halves of the three-board stretcher and drawing 
the skin over the boards to its fullest extent, 
Avith the back on one side and the belly on the 
other, and tacking it fast by driving in a small 
nail an inch or so from each side of the tail near 
the edges of the skin; also, in like manner the 
other side. Now insert the wedge and drive it 
between the halves almost its entire length. 
Care should be taken, however, to not stretch 
the skin so much as to make the fur appear thin 
and thus injure its value. Now put a nail in the 
root of the tail and fasten it to the wedge ; also, 
draw up all slack parts and fasten. Care should 
be taken to have both sides of the skin of equal 
length, which can be done by lapping the leg 
flippers over each other. Now draw up the 
under lip and fasten, and pull the nose down 
until it meets the lip and tack it fast, and then 
the skin is ready to hang away to cure. 

Do not dry skins at a fire or in the sun, or in 
smoke. It often burns them when thej will not 
dress and are of no value. Dry in a well-cov- 
ered shed or tent where there is a. free circula- 
tion of air, and never use any preparation, such 
as alum and salt, as it only injures them for 
market. Never stretch the noses out long, as 

178 Deadfalls and Snares. 

some trappers are inclined to do, but treat them 
as above described, and they will command bet- 
ter values. Fur buyers are inclined to class 
long-nosed skins as "southern" and pay a small 
price for them, as Southern skins are much 
lighter in fur than those of the North. 

The badger, beaver, bear, raccoon and wolf 
must always be skinned "open ;" that is, ripped 
up the belly from vent to chin after the follow- 
ing manner : Cut across the hind legs as if to 
be "cased'' and then rip up the belly. The skin 
can then be removed by flaying as in skinning a 


* * * 

Another experienced trapper says: The ani- 
mals which should be skinned open are bear, 
beaver, raccoon, badger, timber wolf and wolver- 
ines. The way to do this is to rip the skin open 
from the point of the lower jaw, in a straight 
line, to the vent. Then rip it open on the l)ack 
of the hind legs, and the inside of the front 
legs, and peel the skin carefully off the body. 
Beaver, however, should not have the front legs 
split ojK'n and the tail, having no fur, is of 
course cut otf. If the skin is a fine one, and 
especially in the >-ase of bear, the feet should 
not be cut off, but should be skinned, leaving 
the claws on. I would also advise saving the 
skull, and the proper way to clean it is to scrape 

Skinning and Stretching. 179 

the flesh off with a knife. When the animal is 
skinned, roll the skin up with the fur side out 
and put it in your pack. 

See that there are no burrs or lumps of mud 
in the fur, before you do any fleshing. My way 
of fleshing furs — there may be better ways — 
is to draw the skin over a smooth board, made 
for the purpose and scraping, or peeling, with a 
blunt edged knife. Commence at the tail, and 
scrape towards the head, otherwise you may in- 
jure the fibre of the hide. Over the bat-k and 
shoulders of most animals is a thin layer of 
flesh. This sliould l»e removed, and when done, 
there should be nothing remaining but the skin 
and fur. Raccoon and muskrat are easily fleshed 
by pinching the flesh between the edge of the 
knife and the thumb. 

For stretching boards, I prefer a three board 
stretcher, but a plain board will answer. For 
muskrats, use a single board. Open skins are 
best stretched in frames or hoops, but it is all 
right to stretch them on the wall on the inside 
of a building. The l)oards shown in the cut are, 
to my notion, the proper shapes, and I would 
advise making a good supply of them l)efore 
the season commences. 

To use these three board stretchers, insert 
the two halves of the Itoard in the skin, draw 
the skin down and fasten the hind legs, Avith 


Skinning and Stretching. 181 

tacks, to the edges of the boards. This stretches 
the hide long-. Then insert the wedge between 
the two boards, which will stretch the skin out 
to its fullest extent, and give it the proper shape. 
Finish by fastening with tacks, pulling the nose 
over the point of the board, and drawing the 
skin of the lower jaw up against the nose. Hang 
the furs in a cool, dry place and as soon as they 
are dry, remove them from the boards. Fox 
skins should be turned with the fur side out, 
after removing from the board. 

In using the hoop stretcher, the hide is laced 
inside the hoop, with twine, the skin of the coon 
being stretched square and the beaver round. 
All other furs should be stretched so as not to 
draw them out of their natural shape. If the 
weather is warm and the furs are likely to taint, 
salt them. A salted skin is better than a tainted 
one. Put salt in the tail, and punch a hole in 
the end of the tail, with a pointed wire, to let the 
water drain out, or split the tail up about one- 
half inch from tip. 

The skin of the bear is, perhaps, more likely 
to spoil than any other, and the ears especially, 
are likely to taint and slip the fur. To prevent 
this, slit the ears open on the inside, skin theni 
back almost to the edge and fill them with salt, 
also salt the base of the ears, on the flesh side 
of the hide. 


Deadfalls and Snares. 

In stretch in ji', says a North Dakota trapper, 
Ave use a one board stretcher as foHows: Put 
on the fur after yon have fleshed it, the four 
feet on one side and the tail on the other. Tack 


down the hind feet and the tail, then take a 
piece of board about 1 x ^ inches (this would be 
about the correct size for a mink) rounded off 
except on one side. Put it below the fur on the 

Skinning and Stretching. 


side where the feet are, tie the front feet. When 
you are going to take off the fur, pull out the 
small board and the fur will come off easy. 

A contrivance which I have found useful in 
skinning is made of a piece of stiff wire 18 


inches long. Bend this at the middle until it has 
the shape of V with the ends about 8 inches 
apart. Bend up an inch at each end to form 
a hook and when skinning, after cutting around 
the hind feet, hook into the large tendons, hang 
on a nail or over limb, etc., and go ahead with 

184 Deadfalls and Snares. 

both hands. The wire must be nearly as large 
as a slate pencil and will work all right from 
foxes down to mink. Trappers will find this a 
great help in skinning animals after they have 
become cold. Young trappers should use this 
simple device as they will be less liable to cut 
holes in the skin. It pays to be careful in skin- 
ning animals properly as well as to stretch them 
correctl}', for both add to their market value. 

How many trappers save the skulls of their 
larger game? All the skulls of bear, puma or 
mountain lion, wolves, foxes and sometimes 
those of lynx and wild cat are of ready sale if 
they contain good sets of teeth. Several parties 
buy these skulls for cash. 

To prepare them the bulk of the flesh should 
be removed and the brain and eyes also. Prob- 
ably the easiest way to accomplish this is to boil 
the skull with flesh on in an old pot until the 
meat begins to get tender. Then, while hot, it 
may easily be cut away, and by enlarging the 
hole at the back of the skull the brain may be 
scooped out. They should be watched carefully 
as if boiled too long the teeth drop out, bones 
separate and render the skull worthless. It is 
safe, but more tedious to clean them with a sharp 
knife without boiling. 

The dealers pay from 50c for a bear skull to 
15c for a fox, tho taxidermists and furriers often 

Skinning and Stretching. 


pay much more. The British Columbia Govern- 
ment puja bounties upon the skulls, only I think 
this is a good idea as the skins are not mutilated 
and depreciated by scalping, punching or cut- 
ting as usual. Save a few good skulls and add 
dollars to the value of jour catch. 
* * * 

Take two pieces of No. 9 fence wire about 30 
inches long, writes an Ohio coon hunter and 


trapper, file one end sharp, then commence at 
each hind foot and punch the wire thru close to 

186 Deadfalls and Snares. 

the edge as in sewiug, taking stitclies an inch or 
so long nntil you get to the front foot, then pull 
the hide along the wire just far enough so the 
top and bottom will stretch out to make it 
square, or a few inches longer than the width is 

Put 3 or 4 nails in each side, then commence 
at the top and tack all but the head, then pull 
the bottom down even with the sides, not tacking 
the head, which lets it draw down into the hide, 
then tack the head. This is an easy and good 
way to handle coon skins making them nearly 
square when stretched. 

Many inexperienced trappers stretch coon 
skins too long and draw out the head and neck. 
This can be avoided by following instructions 
given here. Coon can be cased but most dealers 
prefer to have them stretched open. 

Get a lot of steel wire, says a Missouri trap- 
per who uses old umbrella wires, the round solid 
ones. Sharpen one end, take your coon skin and 
run one wire u]) each side and one across each 

In putting these wires in do it like the old 
woman knits, that is, Avrap the hide around the 
wire and stick it thru about every inch. Now 
cut six small twigs, make them the proper length 

Skinning and Stretching. 


and notch the ends, and you will soon have your 
hide stretched expert trapper style. 

. The advantage of this is you can carry 
stretchers enough for twenty-five skins in one 
hand and don't have to hunt up a barn door and 



box of tacks and hammer every time you want to 
stretch one. You can stretch in one-fourth the 
time it would take to tack up on a board, and 
you will have it in first class style the first time 
and not have to pull out a tack here and stretch 
a little more there. 

188 Deadfalls and Snares. 

I have always used tlie whole board (not split 
into two pieees and a weds^cd sliai)e piece as some 
do), writes a Massachusetts trapper, and made 
as follows : 

For mink I use a f inch board about 40 inches 
in length, 4 inches wide at the large end, taper- 
ing to about 2^ inches at the small end with the 
edges planed down from near the middle of the 
board to the edge, leaving a thin edge and sand- 
papercHl down smooth. I make the board of this 
length for the reason that it sometimes happens 
that a mink may have laid in a trap for several 
days before being taken out, and if under water 
it is not always eas^^ to determine the exact 
length of time it has been in the trap, and there 
may l)e a p<)ssil)ility that if put on tlie board to 
dry that having laid so long it will taint before 
it will get thoroughly dry. I have seen them in 
a case of this kind where s( and perhaps 
nearl}^ all the hairs on the end of the tail would 
shed or pull out thereby damaging the skin to a 
j^eater or less extent. 

Now when I get a mink in this condition af- 
ter pulling on the board and tacking all around, 
I s])lit the tail open after which I lay it o])en and 
tack all around the same way you would with an 
otter skin. By employing this means you will 
often save the loss of the tail by thus tainting 
and a corresponding loss on the value of the skin. 

Skinning and Stretching. 189 

The value of the mink skin is in no way damaged 
by this process. Some dealers prefer to have all 
the skins they buy cured in this manner. 

For stretching the muskrat skin I also use a 
board of the same thickness as for mink, about 
20 inches in length, 6^ or 7 inches at the large 
end with a slightlj^ rounding taper to a width of 
about 3 inches at small end, the sides planed 
down to a thin edge the same as for the mink 
boards; in fact, I prefer the same manner of 
stretching all cased skins, using care not to have 
the boards so wide as to stretch the skins to a 
width much exceeding the natural width before 
it was placed over the board, but giving them all- 
the strain they will stand with reason, length- 
wise. If stretched too wide it tends to make the 
fur thinner and lessens the value of it. 

I usually'- pull the skins, especially muskrats, 
onto the boards far enough so that the smaller 
end will extend through the mouth of tlie skin 
for perhaps | inch, and when the skins are suffi- 
ciently dry to remove, all that is required is to 
take hold of them with a hand on either edge of 
the skin and give it a sharp tap on the small end, 
when the skin will come off at once. By stretch- 
ing the skins on the boards with the back on one 
side, belly on the opposite side, tliej^ come off 
the boards looking smooth and uniform in width, 
and command a great deal better price than if 

190 Deadfalls and Snares. 

thrown on in a haphazard way on a shingle or 
an inch board badly shaped, as a great many be- 
ginners do. I have seen some shameful work 
done in this respect. 

It is always necessary to remove all surplus 
grease and fat which can readily be done imme- 
diatelyafter the slcin is stretched, otherwise they 
will heat, sweat and mold to a certain extent af- 
ter they are removed from the lioards, which in- 
jures both the appearance and sale of them. It 
is well to look after all these little details. 
These descriptions are given with the desire to 
help some of the beginners. If they will start in 
by using a little care in stretching and having 
pride in their work they will find the business 
both more pleasant and profitable. 

If convenient when going into camp, writes 
an old successful trapper Avho has pursued the 
fur bearers in many states, 3'ou should take sev- 
eral stretching boards for your different kinds 
of fur with you. If not, you can generally find 
a tree that will split good and you can split some 
out. It is usually hard to find widtli*^ that are 
long and straight enough to bend so as to form a 
good shaped stretcher. You shoubl always aim 
to stretch and cure furs you catch in the best 

Skinning and Stretching. 191 

In skinniiiii' you should rip the animal 
straijiht from one heel across to the other and 
close to the roots of the tail on the under side. 
Work the skin loose around the bone at the base 
until you can grasp the bone of the tail with the 
first two fingers of the right hand while you 
place the bone between the first two fingers of 
the left hand. Then, by pulling you will draw 
the entire bone from the tail which you should 
always do. 

Sometimes when the animal has been dead 
for some time the bone will not readily draw 
from the tail. In this case cut a stick the size 
of your finger about eight inches long. Cu^ it 
away in the center until it will readily bend so 
that the two ends will come together. Then cut 
a notch in each part of stick just large enough 
to let the bone of the tail in and squeeze it out. 
It is necessary to whittle one side of the stick 
at the notch so as to form a square shoulder. 

You should have about three sizes of stretch- 
ing boards for mink and fox. For mink they 
should be from 4| inches down to 3 inches and 
for fox from 6^ inches down to 5 inches wide, 
and in length the fox boards may be four feet 
long, and the mink boards three feet long. 

The boards should taper slightly down to 
within 8 inches of the (»nd for fox, and then 
rounded up to a round point. The mink boards 

192 Deadfalls and Snares. 

should be rounded at 4 or 5 inches from this 
point. You Avill vary the shape of the board in 
proportion to the width. Stretching boards 
should not be more than f inch thick. A belly 
strip the length or nearly the length of the 
boards 1;^ inches at the wide end, tapering to 
a point at the other end and about :j to f inch 
thick. Have the boards smooth and even on the 
edges. Other stretching boards should be made 
in proportion to the size and shape of the animal 
whose skin is to be stretched. 

You should not fail to remove all the fat and 
flesh from the skin immediately after the skin is 
onjthe board. If a skin is wet -when taken from 
the animal it should be drawn lightly on a board 
until the fur is (piite dry. Then turn the skin 
flesh side out and stretch. 

Beginning at the left, dimensions and skins 
stretched on the various boards are given : 

No. 1. Mink board, length 28 inches and 4 

No. 2. Mink board, length 28 inches and 3^ 

No. 3. Weasel board length 20 inches and 
2^ wide. 

^o. 4. Muskrat board, length 21 inches and 
6 inches wide. 

Skinning and Stretching. 


No. 5. Opossum board, (small), length 20 
inches and 6^ inches wide. 

No. 6. Skunk or opossum, (medium), length 
28 inches and 7 inches wide. 

No. 7. Skunk and opossum, (large), length 
28 inches and 8 inches wide. 


Old and experienced hunters and trappers 
know about the shape and size to make the vari- 
ous stretching boards for the fur bearers, but 
for the guidance of beginners and those who are 
careless about stretching pelts, the above de- 
scription is especially meant. 

194 Deadfalls and Snares. 

Trappers in Southern sections will no doubt 
find the l)ojirds as descrilted liere too large for 
most of their skunk. In the Northeast the mink 
boards will also be too large, but for this section 
(Ohio), they are about correct. The general 
shape of the boards can be seen from the illus- 

* * * ' 

One of the best wa3's, writes a Minnesota 
trapper, to take off the skin of an animal is by 
cutting tlie skin around the hind legs or feet, and 
then slitting the skin down inside the hind legs 
to the body joining the two slits between the hind 
legs, then remove the skin on the tail by push- 
ing up the thumb nail, or a thin flat piece of 
wood against the bone of the tail and draw off 
the skin. 

Xow commence to draw the body of the ani- 
mal through the slit already made without en- 
larging it, drawing the skin over itself, the fur 
side within. AVhen the forefeet are reached, cut 
the skin away from them at the wrists, and then 
skin oyer the head until the mouth is reached 
when the skin should be finally removed at the 

One thing to be borne in mind when stretch- 
ing a skin to dry, is that it must be drawn tight; 
another, that it must be stretched in a place 
where neither the heat of a fire or that of the sun 

Skinning and Stretching. 195 

will reach it too strongly, and it should not be 
washed. Large skins may be nailed on a wall 
of a shed or barn. 

The board stretcher should be made of some 
thin material. Prepare a board of bass wood or 
some other light material, two feet three inches 
long, three inches and a half wide at one end, 
and two inches and an eighth at the other, and 
three-eighths of an inch thick. Chamfer it from 
the center to the sides almost to an edge. 
Round and chamfer the small end about an inch 
upon the sides. Split the board through the 
center with a knife or saw, finally prepare a 
wedge of the same length and thickness, one inch 
wide at the large end, and taper to a blunt point. 
This is a stretcher suitable for a mink, or a 

Two large sizes with similar proportions are 
required for the large animals, the largest size 
suitable for the full grown otter and wolf, 
should be five feet and a half long, seven inches 
wide at the large end when fully spread by the 
wedge, and six inches at the small end. An in- 
termediate size is required for the fisher, rac- 
coon, fox and some other animals, the propor- 
tions of which can be easily figured out. 

These stretchers require that the skin of the 
animal should not be ripped through the belly, 
but should be stripped off whole. Peel the skin 

196 Deadfalls and Snares. 

from the body by drawinjj; it over itself, leaving 
the fnr inward. In this condition the skin 
should be drawn on to the split board (with the 
back on one side and the belly on the other), to 
its utmost leno'th, and fastened with tacks, and 
then the wed<»e should be driven between the two 
halves. Finally, make all fast by a tack at the 
root of the tail, and another on the opposite side. 
The skin is then stretched to its utmost capacity 
and it may be lumi»" away to dry. 

Not alone the skulls of the larger animals, 
but the skulls of any game, the skeleton of any 
bird, or fish, has a ready market, provided such 
specimens are properl}^ cleaned, and in perfect 
condition. However, the hunter or trapper must 
bear in mind the fact that it is the perfect speci- 
men that is in denumd, and that a bruise on the 
bone literally spoils it for the curator. 

If you will look carefully at any skull, you 
will notice that some of the bones are very thin 
and frail, almost like a spider web. These fine 
bones must be preserved if they are to be of any 
value to the Comparative Anatomist, and boiling 
or scraping simply ruins theuL So much for 
the explanation. Now the method of cleaning, 
is by "rotting" rather than scraping or boiling. 
Take the skull (or whole head) and fix it solid in 

Skinning and Stketching. 197 

some can or jar, then fill it, or cover with water 
and put away for three or four weeks. At the 
end of that time, pour off the water and the bulk 
of the flesh will go too. Fill in with clear water 
again, and repeat as often as necessary. I have 
found that twice will do the work, and leave the 
bone in good condition. 

There is a market for most animal skulls, if 
not damaged, and it may pay to preserve all. In 
the Hunter-Trader-Trapper, published at Colum- 
bus, Ohio, usually will be found advertisements 
of parties who buy them. 

I have never had much luck with two-piece 
stretchers, but use thin board stretchers in one 
piece with a "sword stick" on each side to fully 
stretch and admit the air to both sides of the 
skin. This cures the skin faster and better than 
when only one side is exposed to the air, says a 
Maryland trapper. 

When off from home, I use stretchers made 
from saplings, as boards suitable are not to be 
had everywhere, and cannot be bothered with 
when going light. To make these, cut osier, wil- 
low or hickory switches, straight and thick as 
the finger, about four feet long; cut two short 
pieces for rats 4 and 6 inches long and carefully 
bending the long piece. "Nail these in with a 



Skinning and Stretching. 199 

small wire nail at each end. A handful of shin- 
gle or lath nails and a chinip of osier sprouts 
will make a full outfit of stretchers for a tem- 
porary camp. 

I know it is as much value in stretching your 
furs and preparing them for market as it is in 
trapping, writes a trapper. If you have no 
boards, go to your grocer or dry goods store and 
you can get all the boxes you want for 5 or 10 
cents apiece. They must not be over § of an 
inch thick ; if they are, plane them down smooth 
on both sides. 

I make what I call the two piece stretcher 
with a wedge for muskrats. Take a board 20 
inches long, f inch thick, G inches wide large 
end, 2^ inches small end. Taper back 5 inches 
from small end. Now take block plane and chaf 
fer off each side an inch or more up and round it 
off. liound and chaffer small end the same, 
almost to an edge. Now draw a line thru the 
center of the board and saw it thru. 

Make a wedge the same length and thick- 
ness, f of an inch wide and tapering down to 
1/10 of an inch. If a large skin, push it in be- 
tween the halves. Bore a hole in large end and 
hang up in a cool ventilated place to dry. After 
three days pull out wedge, and your fur will 

200 Deadfalls and Snares. 

slip right ott' without tearing. If the boards 
should warp over, tack a strip across the large 

The mink stretchers are made on the same 
plan. A board the same thickness, 30 inches 
long, 3^ inches ^Yide, taper down 2^ small end 
round chatfer. For large mink insert wedge 
made one inch wide. Taper down to 2/8. For 
skunk and coon they are also good, only they 
are made on a larger scale. 

^'ow a word about easing. Pull your hide on 
so the back is on one side and the belly on^ 
the other. Pull nose over small end ^ inch. Put 
two tacks on each side, now pull doAvn tight to 
large end and put two tacks each side, lay board 
on bench and take an old case knife, scrape off 
all meat and fat and be careful not to scrape 
too thin, so as not to cut the fibre of the skin. 
After you have scraped the flesh off, insert the 
wedge and your skin will be tight. Do not 
stretch your hide so it will make your fur look 


* * * 

This is my way of stretching coon hide; use 
four-penny nails and use either the inside or 
outside of some old building, inside is the best. 
Drive the first nail thru nose. This holds tlie 
liide for starting. Pull each forward leg up (not 
out) on a level with nose and about seven or 

Skixmng and Stretching. 201 

eight inches from nose according to size of the 
coon. Drive next nail at root of tail, and pull 
down, moderately tight. 

Now pull each hind leg out about one inch 
wider than the fore legs and a little below the 
tail nail. Now use a nail every inch and pull 
the hide up between the forward legs and nose, 
until it comes straight across. Next, treat the 
bottom of the hide the same as the top. Use 
plenty of nails. To finish down the sides, drive 
a nail first on one side and then on the other 
until finished. You will find when done that the 
hide is nearly square with no legs sticking out 
the sides and no notches in the skin. 



Mink should be cased fur side in and 
stretched on boards for several days or until 

Skunk should be cased fur side in and 
stretched on boards for several days. The white 
stripe cut out, blackened, etc., reduces the value. 

Kaccoon should be stretched open (ripped 
up the belly) and nailed on boards or the inside 
of a building. Some dealers allow as much for 
coon cased, from any section, while others prefer 
that only Southern coon be cased. 

Foxes of the various kinds should be cased 
and put on boards fur side in for a few days, or 
until dry. As the pelt is thin they soon dry, 
when they must be taken off and should be 
turned fur side out. In shipping see that they 
are not packed against furs flesh side out. 

Lynx should be cased and after drying prop- 
erly are turned fur side out, same as foxes. 

Otter are cased and stretched fur side in. 
The pelt being thick and heavy, takes several 
days to dry properly. They are shipped flesh 
side out. Sea otter are handled the same as fox. 
lynx and marten, that is, fur side out. 


Handling and Grading. 203 

Beaver are split but stretched round and 
should be left in the hoop or stretcher for sev- 
eral days. 

Bear should be handled open and stretched 
carefully. In skinning be careful and leave 
nose, claws and ears on the hide. 

Wolves can be handled same as bear, also 

Fisher should be cased and stretched flesh 
side out, but may be sent to market same as 
foxes or fur out. 

Marten should be stretched and dried on 
boards, fur side in, but turned as soon as dried. 

Opossum are stretched on boards fur side in 
and are left in that condition after removing the 
boards. Cut the tails off when skinning — they 
have no value. 

MusKRAT should be stretched fur side in and 
a few days on the boards is sufficient. They are 
left as taken off, that is, fur side in. Cut the 
tails off when skinning — they are worthless. 

WExVSEL should be cased, fur side in. The 
pelts are thin and soon dry. Leave fur side in 
after taking off boards. 

Badger are si)lit and should be nailed to the 
inside of a building to dry. 

Civet Cat should be cased and stretched on 
boards fur side in. When dry remove boards 
and leave fur side in. 

204 Deadfalls and Snares. 

liLXG Tail Cats should be eased and after 
removing boards are generally left fur side in 
for market. 

Wild Cat are eased and stretelied on boards. 
They may be turned fur out or left as taken from 
the stretchers, fur side in. 

House Cat are eased and stretehed on 
boards fur side in. Thej- are sent to market 
usually fur side in. 

Kabbits are cased fur in and, as the pelt is 
thin, soon dry. They are shipped fur side in. 

Panther are treated much the same as bear. 
Care should be taken in skinning to leave claws, 
ears, nose, etc., on the skin for mounting pur- 

My experience has been that the house which 
makes only four grades of prime goods is the 
house that 3'OU will receive the largest checks 
from for your collection, writes a Michigan col- 
lector of 50 years' experience. So many grades 
quoted makes it possible for a firm to success- 
fully squelch you a little every time you ship 
and yet you can have no reasonable excuse to 
complain for when you ship, you know that in 
some houses there is a grade for nearly every 
skin you send. So I, for one, would rather risk 
the fewer grades. 

A trapper from Wisconsin says : For sample, 

Handling and Grading. 205 

say mink are wortli from 25 cents to |3.00. 
There would be 275 prices between the extremes. 
Now if lie is a fur buyer I certainly pity the 
trappers that would have to take those 275 dif- 
ferent prices for their mink. A man should be 
able to know the difference between grades No. 
1, 2, 3 and 4, and when he does he is then able to 
give a fair and honest price for every skin he 
buys. If he doesn't know the difference then, 
he had better get a job clerking in a hotel or 
sawinji' wood. 

Many have requested that the difference in 
the various grades of skins be explained and 
for their benefit, as well as others of little ex- 
perience, the following may prove instructive. 

Haw furs are assorted into four grades, viz : 
No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4. AVith the excep- 
tion of skunk and muskrat most houses sub- 
divide the No. 1 skins into large, medium and 
small. In addition to this many firms quote a 
range of prices about as follows : Mink, North- 
ern New York, large |G.OO to |S.OO. Would it 
not be more satisfactory to quote one price only? 

It is generally known that Alinnesota mink 
are large. Fi-om that state a No. 1 medium mink 
is as large as a No. 1 large from Alaine, where 
mink are rather small. But as the dealers on 

206 Deadfalls and S narks. 

their price lists quote the various states and 
sections, why not quote one price only as follows : 

Mink, Noktiieun New York^ No. 1. 

Large, Medium, KSmall, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, 
17.00. 15.00. 13.00. 11.50. fO.To. |0.20. 

These figures, of course, are only given for 
illustration and are not meant to show Aalue. 

Furs from the various parts of North Ameri- 
ca have their peculiar characteristics and it is 
easy for the man of experience to tell in what 
part of the country a pelt was caught. It may 
be shipped by a collector hundreds of miles from 
where caught, but if there are many in the col- 
lection the expert will soon detect it. This 
knowledge, however, only comes with years of 

Prime skins are those caught during cold 
weather and the pelt after drying a few days 
is bright and healthy appearing. 

T'^nprime skins are those that turn blue or 
black after being stretched for a time. TTsually 
the darker the pelt the poorer the fur. If only 
slightly 1)lued the pelt may go back only one 
grade, while if black it is a])t to be no better 
than No. 3 or No. 4 and may be trash of no 

Springy skins, as the name indicates, are 

Handling and Grading. 207 

those taken toward tlie last of the season or in 
the spring and tho often prime pelted, have be- 
gun to shed. The beginner is often deceived, for 
he thinks if the pelt is prime, the fur is. Foxes 
and other animals are often "rubbed" toward 
spring, which of course lessens their value. 

A No. 1 skin must be not onlj^ average in 
size but free from cuts, etc. No unprime skin 
will grade better than No. 2. 

Skunk, to be No. 1 or black, must be prime 
in pelt, fair size and stripe not extending be- 
yond the shoulders. The day that only "star 
black" were taken for No. 1 is passed, for most 
trappers and shippers know better now. 

A No. 2, or short striped skunk, is prime and 
the stripes, if narrow, may extend nearly to the 
tail. A small No. 1 or a blued No. 1 is graded 
No. 2. 

A No. 3 or long stripe has two stripes extend- 
ing the entire length, but there must be as much 
black between the stripes as either of the white 

In some of the states, such as Minnesota, 
Iowa, the Dakotas, etc., skunk are large and are 
nearly all striped the same — long narrow stripes 
— but owing to their size they are worth about 
the same as tlie eastern short stripe or No. 2. 

A No. 4, broad or wbite skunk, is prime but 
has two broad stripes extending down the back. 

208 Deadfalls and Snares. 

Most dealers class skunk as No. 4 if either 
white stripe contains more white than there is 
black between the two stripes. 

All unprime skunk are j^raded down to No. 2, 
3 and 4 according to depth of fur and stripe. A 
No. 1 skunk in stripe, but blue, becomes a No. 
2, or if badh' blued No. 3 or 4; a No. 2 skunk 
in stripe but blue becomes a No. 3; a No. 3 in 
stripe but blue, a No. 4; a No. 4 in stripe but 
blue generally goes into trash. In fact, if badly 
blued, any of the grades may be thrown to trash. 

Muskrat are assorted into four grades — 
spring, winter, fall and kitts. Spring vats are 
known as No. 1; winter. No. 2; fall. No. 3; 
Kitts, No. 4. 

No. 1 or spring rats are those taken in March 
and April. The pelt is then of a reddish color 
and is entirely free from dark spots. A few 
spring rats may be caught earlier than March, 
but so long as they show dark spots they are 
not No, 1. 

No. 2, or winter rats, are pretty well furred, 
but there are dark streaks and spots in the hide 
usually on the back. 

No. 3 or fall are not full furred and the pelt 
is far from prime. The dark streaks show much 
more than later in tlie season. 

No. 4, or kitts, are only partl}^ grown or if 
larger are badly damaged. 

Handling and Grading. 209 

Opossum is the only animal that may have a 
"prime" pelt but an "unprime" coat of fur. This 
makes opossum rather diflicult to assort unless 
turned fur side out. 

If opossum have been properly skinned and 
stretched they will, when unprime, show a dark 
blue spot on the Under side at the throat. The 
plainer this spot the poorer the fur. 

Good unprime skins are No. 2; poor unprime 
skins, No. 3; the very poor and stagey, no fur, 
are No. 4, generally known as trash and of no 

The other fur-bearers, such as mink, otter, 
beaver, fox, wolves, lynx, wild cat, fisher, rac- 
coon, bear, badger, civet cat, weasel, etc., are 
graded much the same that is, all skins to be No. 
1 must be caught in season, when the fur is 
prime, at which time the "pelt" is healthy ap- 
pearing — never blue or black — must be of 
average size, correctly skinned, handled and free 
of cuts or shot holes. 

Skins may be unprime from several causes, 
viz. : caught too early, improperly handled, 
under size, etc. Unprime skins are graded No. 
2, 3 and 4 according to how inferior they are. 
The fairly well furred unprime skins are graded 
No. 2; the low furred un])rime skins are thrown 
to No. 3 ; the poorly furred are thrown to No. 4, 
while low stagev skins go to trash. 

210 Deadfalls and Snares. 

Some skins altho prime are so small that 
they gTade No. 3. This, however, is the excep- 
tion rather than the rule. Usually if prime, the 
under size will only put the skin down one 


*= ♦ * * 

I have bought some for a number of years, 
writes a collector, and know that some trappers 
are like some farmers, they want as much money 
for a bushel of dirty wheat as their neighbor gets 
for a bushel of clean wheat. I have had skunk 
and opossum hides offered me that had a pound 
or two of tainterl fat on them, and skins that 
were taken out of season, for which they expect 
to get No. 1 prices. 

There are some who stretch their skins in 
the shape of an oblong triangle and leave flesh 
enough on to make their dinner. Stretch your 
hides as near the shape of the aniuml as pos- 
sible; don't try to make a muskrat hide as long 
as a mink, or a mink as wide as a muskrat. 
Catch in season, flesh carefully, stretch in good 
shape, always take bone out of tails, keep in an 
airy building uutil dry and then you will not 
have to grumble so much at the buyer in regard 
to prices. 



Under this title, says an experienced Western 
trapper, I shall endeavor to show my brother 
trappers how to handle pelts : 

As soon as I get in from my traps (I use a 
team and wagon), I feed team, dogs and self, 
then I proceed to skin the game in the usual 
manner; when game is all skinned I put on my 
fleshing suit, made of rubber cloth like that 
buggy curtains are made of, get out my fleshing 
boards, of which I have three sizes — large, me- 
dium and small — for each kind of cased skins 
except rat, which I flesh with thumb and knife. 
The fleshing boards are like Fig 1 on enclosed 
diagram, made of 1 inch pine free from knots 
and dressed on both sides, 3 feet 6 inches long, 
and for skunk f in. and 10 in. wide, tapered up 
to a blunt point, edges rounded and sandpapered 
smooth. These boards can be made of other 
sizes so as to fit larger or smaller pelts of other 

For a flesher I have tried nearly everything 
imaginable, dull knives, hardwood scrapers, etc., 
but have abandoned them all for the hatchet. I 



Deadfalls and Snares. 

use an old latli hatchet head and use it tolerably 
sharp; I proceed as follows: Put pelt on board 
but do not fasten, grip lower edge with left hand, 

pull down hard, place point of board against 
breast and use hatchet with right, pushing down 
and holding hatchet nearly Hat; use plenty of 

From Animal to Market. 


elbow grease; as fast as you get a strip cleaned 
off turn hide a little but do not flesh on edge of 







/ : 1 



IV e 


^P--., PENNY 


Kl NAiu 















board. It may not work good at first and you 
may cut one or two hides, but you will soon get 
the knack. 

214 Deadfalls and Snares. 

If possible take a bitch skunk for the first as 
they flesh easier, and be sure there are no burrs 
or cliuuks of mud in the fur, or you will cut a 
hole the size of the burr. Now for the stretch- 
ers. In Fig. 2 is what I use ; it is something of 
my own invention, and there is no patent on it. 
It is made of anj wood that will split straight, 
and the dimensions are as follows : Pieces are 4 
ft. long by If in. dressed smooth; pieces are 
1^ X f in, ; will say for large skunks here they 
would be 10 in. and 4^ in. To frame you must 
soak or steam the long pieces; mitre the ends 
and fasten with 3d finishing nails clinched. 
Then place in position 1 in. from ends and fasten 
with two Gd finishing nails; place in position and 
pull up to 8 in. from nose and fasten : now cham- 
fer off edges and sandpaper smooth. 

I like this stretcher, as it airs both sides of 
pelt and will dry them in half the time. Fig 3 
shows manner of fastening pelt ; on belly side it 
can be di-awn down and fastened to tail pieces 
Avitli sack needle and twine; it is made of two or 
more poles fastened in the shape of a hoop. 

In shipping furs, bale tight ; do not ship loose 
in sack; place mink and rat inside of skunk and 
other fur, and always place the toughest pelts (m 
outside. By bailing tight you Avill avoid crink- 
ling and they will not look mussy and will bring 
from 5 to 10 per cent. more. Now, brother trap- 

From Animal to ^Market. 


pers, fleshing pelts, as I understand it, is not 
merely taking the fat off, but in going deeper 

FiG. 3 

f '""" 1 

1 ■ 41 

■■, 'llfr- 

■ j 11 

|| ..111,. 1 


i .jiiii J 1 



J 1 


and taking the flesh clean from the pelt so that if 
skunk, the stripe will show clear the full length 
and reducing the weight by half. On February 

216 Deadfalls and Sxares. 

2nd. I shipped 15 skunk, all large; the lot only 
weighed 9 pounds including sack. 

When stretching skunk and otter skins, if 
the weather is warm, split the tails, open and 
tack flat. Split open half way all others that 
have fur tails. Open pelts can be stretched in 
hoops made of one or more poles an inch or so in 
diameter, and sewed in with a sack needle and 
heavy twine. 

In stretching do not get the pelt so wide that 
the fur looks thin, or so long and narrow that it 
looks as if a horse had been hitched to each end. 
Keep the natural shape of the animal as much as 
possible, dry in a cool, airy place inside, or on 
the north side of a building and away from fire. 

Baling — here is where the expert trapper 
shows his craft, and in baling you will see him 
wipe off all surplus fat and dirt and place the 
heavy pelts on the outside of his pack. The light- 
er furs, such as mink, marten, cat, etc., Avill be 
placed inside of the skins that are heavier. For 
instance: From four to eight rats or mink, m- 
side of a fox or skunk. He will place the head 
of one to the tail of another, the tails folded in. 
He now ties a cord tightly around each end, 
placing them on a square of burlap, and with 
sack needle and twine draws up the sides as tight 
as he can ; then he folds in the ends and sews up 
snug. Furs thus i>acked reach the market in 

From Animal to Market. 


good shape, and not sncli as tliev would if 
crammed promiscuously into a sack. 

In conclusion, boys, let me suggest a maxim 


or two for your guidance : ''Prime cauglit and 
well handled furs always bring top prices." 
"Take pride in your catch, no matter how small." 

218 Deadfalls and Snakes. 

While the heading of this cliapter is "From 
Animal to ^larket" it is well when shipping to 
request the dealer to grade and send value. If 
satisfactory, write to send on cheek. If not sat- 
isfactor}', have dealer return furs. 

When shipping furs under these conditions 
see that no green skins are sent — only properly 
cured ones. 

While some dealers offer to pay expressage 
both ways we hardly think this fair and if no 
deal is made the dealer should pay the express- 
age one way and the shipper the other. 

The Hunter-Trader-Trapper, published at 
Columbus, Ohio, in the interests of hunters, 
trappers and dealers in raw furs contains a great 
deal of information that will be of value along 
the line of shipping furs as well as trapping 
methods, etc. 



This book would not be complete without at 
least a few pages devoted to steel traps. While 
a few steel traps were in use prior to 1850, yet it 
has only been since that date that they have 
come into general use. During recent years 
they have become cheaper and trappers in all 
parts of America are using them in greater 

Professional trappers in the North, North- 
west and Southwest often have out lines many 
miles long and use 200 to 350 steel traps of the 
various sizes. 

Each of the three main sets — land, water 
and snow are used in various ways and to de- 
scribe all of these would require a book. 

Steel traps are made in various sizes from 
No. to No. 6, to meet the requirements of trap- 
pers for the various animals. The best traps 
manufactured are the Newhouse made by the 
well-known trap manufacturers — Oneida Com- 
munity, Ltd., Oneida, N. Y. A brief description 
of these follows : 



Deadfalls and Snares. 

Spread of Jinvs 3} inches. This, the small- 
est trap made, is used mostly for eatchino; the 
gopher, a little animal which is very troublesome 
to western farmers, and also rats and other ver- 
min. It has a sharp oTip and will hold larger 
game, but should not be overtaxed. 

Spread of Jaws, 4 inches. This Trap is used 
for catching muskrats and other small animals, 
and sohl in greater numbers than any other size. 
Its use is well understood by professionel trap- 
pers and it is the most serviceable size for catch- 
inlc skunks, weasels, rats and such other aninuils 
as visit poultry houses and barns. 

Steel ' Traps. 


Spread of Jaws, 4 inches. Occasionally ani- 
mals free themselves from traps by i?nawing 
their legs off just below the trap jaws, where the 
flesh is numb from pressure. Various forms of 
traps have been experimented with to obviate 
this difticulty. The Webbed Jaws shown above 
have proved very successful in this respect. 

Noting the cross-section of the jaws, as illus- 
trated at the left, it is plain the animal can only 
gnaw off its leg at a point quite a distance below 
the meeting edges. The flesh above the point of 
amputation and below the jaws will swell and 
make it impossible to pull the leg stump out of 
the trap. 


Deadfalls and Snares. 

The No. 81 Traj) forre.sijouds iu size with the 
regular No. 1 Newhoiise. 

Spread of Jaws — 91, 5^ inches; 91^, 6^ 
inches. The double jaws take an easy and firm 

grip so high up on the muskrat that he can not 
twist out. A skunk cannot gnaw out either. 

These traps are especially good .for muskrat, 
mink, skunk and raccoon. 

All parts of the No. 91 except the jaws are 
the same size as the regular No. 1 Newhouse, 
while the 91 i corresponds to the reguhir No. 1^. 

Steel Traps. 


Spread of Jaws 4^ inches. This size is caUed 
the Mink Trap. It is, however, suitable for 
catching the woodcliuck, skunk, etc. Profes- 
sional trappers often use it for catching foxes. 
It is very convenient in form and is strong and 

Spread of Jaws 4J inches. The No. 2 Trap 
is called the Fox Trap. Its spread of jaws is 
the same as the No. 1^ but having two springs it 
is, of course, much stronger. 



Spread of Jaws 5| inclies. This, the- Otter 
Trap, is very powerful. It will hold almost any 
game smaller than a bear. 

Spread of Jaws G^ inches. This is the regu- 
lar form of Beaver Trap. It is longer than the 
Xo. 3 Trap, and has one inch greater spread of 
jaws. It is a favorite with those who trap and 
hunt for a living in the Northwest and Canada. 
It is also extensively used for trapping the 
smaller wolves and coyotes in the western stock 
raising reiiions. 

Steel Traps. 


Spread of Jaws, G^ iiielies. In some locali- 
ties the otter i^rows to an nnnsnal size, with 
great proportionate strength, so that the manu- 
facturers have been led to produce an especially 
large and strong pattern. All the parts are 
heavier than the No. 2^, the spread of jaws 
greater and the spring stiffer. 

Spread of Jaws, 5 inches. The above cut 
represents a Single Spring Otter Trap. It is 
used more especially for catching otter on their 
"slides." For this purpose a thin, raised plate 
of steel is adjusted to the pan so that when the 

226 Deadfalls and Snares. 

trap is set the plate will he a trifle higher than 
tlie teeth on the jaws. The spring is very power- 
ful, being the same as used on the No. 4 New- 
house Trap. The raised plate can be readily de- 
tached if desired, making the trap one of general 

Single Spring. Same as No. 2| but without 
Teeth or Raised Plate. 


Single Spring. Same as No. 3^ but without 
teeth or Raised Plate. 

Spread of Jaws — No. 21|, 5| inches ; No. 31^, 
6i inches. These traps are the largest smooth 
jaw, single spring sizes that are made. Profes- 
sional trappers will find these especially valu- 
able when on a long traii])ing line, as they are 
more comiuict and easier to secrete than the 

Steel Traps. 


large double spring traps. The springs are 
made extra heavy. 

Note. — The 21|^ is practically a single spring 
No. 3 and the 31| a single spring No. 4. 

Spread of Jaws, 6^ inches. This trap is the 
same in size as the No. 4 Beaver, but has heavier 
and stiffer springs and offset jaws, which allow 
the springs to raise higher when the animal's leg 
is in the trap, and is furnished with teeth suffi- 
ciently close to prevent the animal from pulling 
its foot out. 

Clutch Detachable- 
without it. 

-Trap can be used with or 


Deadfalls and Snakes. 

6| inches 

Spread of Jaws, No. 23, 5^ inches; No. 24, 
The inventor of this attachment 
claims to have had wonderful success with it in 
taking beaver. The trap should be set with the 
clutch end farthest from shore. The beaver 
swims with his fore legs folded back against his 
body, and when he feels his breast touch the 
bank he puts them down. The position of the 
trap can be so calculated that he will put his fore 
legs in the trap, when the clutch will seize him 
across the body and hold him securely. 

In response to a demand for a new model of 
the Newhouse Trap especially adapted to catch- 
ing wolves, the manufacturers have perfected a 
trap which is numbered 4^ and is called the 
"Newhouse Wolf Trap." 

Steel Traps. 


This trap has eight inches spread of jaw, with 
other parts in proportion, and is provided with a 
pronged ''drag,'' a lieavy snap and an extra heavy 
steel swivel and chain, five feet long, warranted 
to hold 2,000 pounds. The trap complete with 
chain and "drag" weighs about nine pounds. 

Spread of Jaws, 9 inches. 

tended for catching small sized bears 

This trap is in- 
In de- 
sign it is exactly lil^e the standard No. 5 Bear 
Trap, only that the parts are all somewhat 
smaller. Weight, 11| ]h>uii(1s each. 

Spread of Jaws, inches. This trap is identi- 
cal with No. 5 excepting that the jaws are offset, 
making a space five-eighths inch between them. 
This allows the springs to come up higher when 
the bear's foot is in the trap, and thus secure a 
better grip. Also there is less chance of break- 
ing the bones of the foot. Weight, 11^ pounds 


Deadfalls axd ^^nares. 

Spread of Jaws, llf inches. This trap weighs 
nineteen pounds. It is used for taking the com- 
mon black bear and is furnished with a very 
strong chain. 

Spread of Jaws, llf inches. To meet the 
views of certain hunters whose judgment is re- 
spected, the manufacturers designed a style of 
jaw for the No. 5 trap, making an offset of | of 
an inch, so as to allow the springs to come up 
higher when the bear's leg is in the trap. This 
gives the spring a better grip. Those wishing 
this stjde should specify "No. 15." 

Steel Traps. 


Spread of Jaws, IG inches. Weight, com- 
plete, 42 pounds. This is the stvoniiest trap 
made. We have never heard of anytiiiug getting 
out of it when once caught. It is used to catch 
lions and tigers, as well as the great Grizzly 
Bears of the Kocky ^Mountains. 

This cut illustrates Bear Chain Clevis and 
Bolt, intended as a substitute for the ring on the 
end of the trap chain, when desired. 

With this clevis a loo]) can be made around 
any snuill log or tree without the trouble of cut- 


Deadfalls and Snares. 

tiug to fit the ring. The chain is made five feet 
long, suitable for any clog, and the prices of bear 
traps fitted with it are the same as with the 
resnlar short chain and ring. 

Every trapper knows how difficult it is to set 
a large trap alone in the woods, especially in 
cold weather, when the fingers are stiff, and the 
difficulty is greatly increased when one has to 
work in a boat. One of these clamps applied to 
each spring will by a few turns of the thumb- 
screws, bend the springs to their places, so that 
the pan may be adjusted without difficulty. No. 
4 Clamp can be used on any trap smaller than 
No. 4|. No. 5 and 6 are strong clamps, care- 
fully made and especially adapted to setting the 
large traps Nos. 4^ to 6. They dispense with the 
inconvenient and dangerous use of levers. With 
them one can easily set these powerful traps. 
These clamps are also useful about camp for 
other purposes. 


Describe* the VarioDS Makes and Tells How to Use Them. AI90 
Chapters on Care of Pelts, Etc. 

This book contains 333 pages 5x7 inches and 130 illustrations, 
printed on good quality heavy paper. Just the book that trappers 
have long needed; gives the history 
of Steel Traps, how made, sizes for 
the various animals with detailed in- 
structions on where and how to set. 
Contains 32 chapters. 

I. Sewell Newhouse 

II. Well Made Traps 

III. A Few Failures 

IV. Some European Traps 
V. Proper Sizes 

VI. Newhouse Traps 

VII. Double and Web Jaws 

VIII. Victor, Hawley & Norton 

IX. Jurnp Traps 

X. Tree Traps 

XI. Ston Thief Traps 

XII. Wiae Spreading Jaws 

XIII. Caring for Traps 

XIV. Marking Traps 
X\^ How to Fasten 

XVI. How to Set. 

XXVI. Water Trapping 
XXVII. When to Trap 
XXVIII. Some Deep Water 
XXIX. Skinning and 
XXX. Handling and Grad- 
XXXI. From Animal to 
XXXII. Miscellaneous In- 

XVII. Where to Set 
XVHI. Looking at Traps 
XIX. Mysteriously Sprung 
XX. Good Dens 
XXI. The Proper Bait 
XXII. Scent and Decoy 

XXIII. Human Scent and 

XXIV. Hints on Fall Trap- 

XXV. Land Trapping 

Scores of old hunters and trappers have written their methods 
(in addition to the author who for many years trapped and later 
as editor came in touch with many leading trappers) which are 
published. Makes no difference what fur-bearing animal you 
wish to trap, the best methods of its capture are described. Also 
chapters on how to skin, stretch and handle raw furs. 

What publishers say: 

"Scores of hunters and trappers who take toll of the wild, 
have written their experiences for 'Steel Traps,' a useful book 
for hunters, trappers, guides and boys who delight in the craft 
of the woods. A. R. Harding, the author and publisher, has 
collected an immense amount of information in its 330 pages." 
—Globe, Boston, Mass. 

Price postpaid. Cloth bound, $1.00 

A. R. HARDING, Publisher, 
106 Walnut Street, ST. LOUIS, MO. 


A Book of Practiaal Instruction on Breeding, Raiting; 
Handling and Selling ; AUo Their Uie and Fur Value 

ALTHOUGH the ferret industry is still in its infancy there is 
a town in Northern Ohio that has raised and sold more 

than a million dollars worth of ferrets during the past fifteen 

years. This village is often called "Ferretville" and an entire 
chapter is devoted to it, telling of the 
first raiser in America as well as those 
who are raising them there now. The 
ferret is a domesticated wild animal used 
to exterminate rats and for rabbit hunt- 
ing. For rats they are much used in 
houses, barns, outbuildings, levees, 
walls, ships, boats, grain elevators, 
mills, stores or any place where there 
are rats. If rightly used and handled 
there is no better or quicker way to rid 
a place of the pests. Where rabbits are 
doing an injury to fruit trees, etc., fer- 
rets can be used to advantage. They are 
also used to some extent on the large 
western ground squirrel, gopher and 
prairie dogs. Success has also been had 
when using on mink, skunk, coon and 

other fur-bearing animals. 

This book tells how to raise, train and use ferrets. Book 

contains '214 pages and 45 illustrations. There are 21 chapters, 

as follows: 

Ferrets and Mink, 

Skunk, Etc. 
Ferret Contrivances, 

(Muzzles, etc.) 
Letters From Raisers 
The Ferret in Belgium 
Ferret Raising in a 

Small Wajr 
Ferret Raising as a 

How to Sell Ferrets 
Ferrets as Fur Bearers 
Ferrets — A to Z 
Diseases of Ferrets 

This book, FERRET FACTS AND FANCIES, shows some 
of the largest and most up-to-date ferret farms in America as 
well as hutches and pens of the small raisers from photographs. 

This book bound in cloth will be ssnt a ^ f\f\ 
postpaid tb any address for <pl»UU 

A. R. HARDING, Publisher, 
106 Walnut Street, ST. LOUIS, MO. 


History and Descrip- 






Hutches and Nests 


Barns and Sheds 



Feeding and Manage- 







Handling and Train- 



Rats — Common Brown 



Ferrets and Rats 



Ferrets and Rabbits 



Ferrets and Ground 
Squirrels, Gophers, 
Prairie Dogs 



A Book of Information on Raising Fur-Bearing Animals, Tellin g 
all About Enclosures, Breeding, Feeding. Habits, Care, Etc. 

THIS book is now in its FIFTH EDITION. It is 
the recognized authority on raising all kinds 
of fur-bearing animals. All of the questions 
asked, or you may wish to know, are answered in 
detail in this book. It is the only guide for those 
who are contemplating the raising of fur-bearers 
for profit, and its accurate descriptions of the 
animals and their habits, when in the wild state, 
make it interesting and valuable to all. 

The information has been secured from reliable 
sources, mainly from those who have already 
raised the various animals. A part was taken 
from the United States Government reports of 
their investigations. 

Foxes— More than forty pages are devoted to foxes. The business of 
handling valuable foxes as carried on in Canada is explained. 

Mink— The chapter on Mink Raising is more complete than in the 
earlier editions and as well illustrates aminkery showing: 1st, floor plan; 
2nd, end view; 3rd, completed building. 

Marten— A chapter on Marten Raising has also been added. 

Skunk— This chapter contains 35 pages of information as well as 11 
illustrations. One of the illustrations shows skunk skins and how they 
are graded. Removing scent sacs is fully explained and illustrated by 
two drawings or diagrams showing the scent sacs and how far and 
where to cut to expose sacs and ducts. After looking at these and read- 
ing explanation anyone can easily remove the scent sacs. 

Chapter Headings— Read them and it will be seen at once that this 
is a very practical book, covering the subject of Fur Raising or Fur 
Farming thoroughly. Book contains 278 pages, 5x7 inches, printed on 
good paper, with 49 illustrations and drawings. The book contains 16 
chapters as follows: 

I. Supply and Demand 

II. What Animali to Raise 

III. Enclosares 

IV. Laws Affecting Fnr Farming 
V. Box Trap Trapping 

VI. Fox Raising 

VII. Fox Raising in Canada 

VIII. Skonk Raising 

IX. Mink Raising 

X. Opossnm Raising 

XI. Mnskrat Raising 

XII. Raccoon Raising 

XIII. The Beaver and the Otter 

XIV. Marten Raising 

XV. Killing, Skinning & Stretching 

XVI. Deer Faiming 

If you have ever thought of raising fur-bearing animals, better send 
for this book at once. Maybe after reading you will conclude to go into 
the business, for there has been money made at the business and will be 
for years to come by those who are suited to the industry— the book tells 
this and lots more. 

This book bound in cloth will be sent postpaid to any address for $ } 

A. R. HARDING, Publisher, 106 Walnut St., ST. LOUIS, MO* 

Fox Trapping 

A Book of Instructions Telling How 

to Trap, Snare, Poison and Shoot. 

A Valuable Book for Trappers. 

Contains about 200 pages and 50 illustrations 
divided into Twenty-two Chapters as follows: 

1 General Information 
8 Baits and Ki-eiits 
3 Foxes and Odor 
i Chaff Method, Scent 

5 Traps and Hints 

6 All-round Laud Set 

7 i-now Set 

8 Trapping Red Fox 

9 Red and Grey 

10 Wire and Twine Snare 

11 Trap Snare, Shooting 

and Poison 

12 My first Fox 

13 Tennessee Trapper's 


14 Many Uood Methods 

15 Fred and the old Trap- 


16 Experienced Trapper 


17 Reynard Outwitted 

18 Fox Shoptlng 

19 A Shrewd Fox 

20 Still Hunting the Fox 

21 Fox Ranches 

22 Steel Traps 

If all the methods as given in this book had been studied out by one man 
and he began trapping when Columbus discovered America more than four 
hundred years ago, he would not be half through. 

Cloth Bound $1* Postage Included 

Mink Trapping 

A Book of Instructions Giving Many 
Methods of Trapping. A Val- 
uable Book for Trappers 

Contains nearly 200 pages and over 50 illustrations 
divided into Twenty Chapters as follows: 

1 General Information 

2 Mink and Their Habits 

3 Size and Care of Skins 

4 (jood ami Lasting Baits 
Halt and Scent 

(i I'laces to Set 

7 Indian Methods 

8 Mink Trapping on the Prairies 

9 Southern Methods 
10 Northern Methods 

11 Unusual Ways 

12 Illinois Trapper's Methods 

13 Experienced Trapper's Ways 

14 Many Good Methods 

15 Salt Set 

16 Log and Other Sets 

17 Points for the Young Trapper 

18 Proper Size Traps 

19 Jleadtalls 

20 Steel Traps 

The methods as published are those of experienced trappers from all 
parts of the country. There is money made in catching mink if you know 
how. After reading this instructive book, you will surely know. If you 
only catch one more prime mink it will pay for the book several times. 

Cloth Bound $1. Postage Included 

A. R. HARDING, Pub., 106 Walnut St., ST. LOUIS, MO. 

This book contains Hi 

40 illustratiiins, many nf \ 



Describes the Fur Bearing Animals, Their Nature, Habits 
and Distribution, with Practical Methods of Their Capture^ 

pages, 5x7 inches, with more than 
licli are full page of the various fur 
bearing animals, also several 
pages of tracks. 

The author, Mr. E. Kreps, in 
his introduction says: "In order 
to be successful, one must know 
the wild animals as a mother 
knows her child. He must also 
know and use the most practical 
methods of trapping, and it is 
my object to give in this work, 
the most successful trapping meth- 
ods known. These modes of trap- 
ping the fur bearing animals have 
for the most part been learned 
from actual experience in various 
parts of the country, but I also 
give the methods of other success- 
ful trappers, knowing them to be 
as good as my own. I am per- 
sonally acquainted with some of 
the most expert trappers in North 
America, and have also followed 
the Indians over their trap lines, and in this way have learned 
many things which to the white man are not generally known." 
This book contains twenty-four chapters, as follows: 



Trapper's Art 



































The Raccoon. 


The Badger. 


The Opossum. 


The Lynx. 


The Bay Lynx or Wild Cat 


The Cougar. 


The Wolverine. 


The Pocket Gopher. 


The Rabbit. 


Tracks and Signs. 


Handling Furs. 


Steel Traps, 

The chapter on TRACKS AND JTONS contains sixteen 
pages — eleven of description and five of illustrations. 

The author goes into detail, telling where the tracks and 
signs of the various animals are most apt to be found. This 
with an accurate drawing of the footprints, makes the chapter 
on TRACKS AND SIGNS alone worth dollars to the young 
and inexperienced trapper, while the distribution, nature, hab- 
its, etc., will prove interesting to all. This book is rightly 
named — Science of Trapping. 

Price, postpaid. Cloth Bonnd. $1.00 

A. R. HARDING, Pub., 106 Walnut St., ST. LOUIS, MO. 


Describes in a Practical IManner the Training, Handling, 

Treatment, Breeds, etc., Best Adapted fc Night 

Hunting, as well as Gun Dogs for 

Daylight Sport. 

rHIS book contains 253 pages, 5x7 
inches, 45 illustrations showing the 
various breeds, hunting scenes, etc. 

The author in his introduction says: 
"As if hunting for profit, night hunt- 
ing for either pleasure or gain and 
professional hunting generally had no 
importance, writers of books have 
contented themselves with dwelling 
on the study and presentation of mat- 
ters relating solely to the men who 
hunt for sport only. Even then the 
Fox Chase and Bird Hunting has 
been the burden of the greater per 
cent, of such books." 

Part One — Hunting Dogs, 

6. Wolf and Coyote Hunting 

7. Training — For Squirrels 
and Rabbits 

8. Training the Deer Hound 
Training — Specific Things 

to Teach 
Training — Random Sugges- 
tions from Many Sources 




Night Hunting 

2. The Night Hunting Dog 

— His Ancestry 

3. Training the Hunting Dog 

4. Training the Coon Dog 

5. Training for Skunk, Opos- 

sum and Mink 

Part II — Breeding and Care of Dogs. 
Chapter 14. Breeding (Continued) 

11. Selecting the Dog 15. 

12. Care and Breeding 

13. Breeding. 16. 

Part IM — Dog 

17. Still Trailers vs. Tonguers. 18. 
Music. 19. 

Peculiarities of Dogs and 
Practical Hints 
Ailments of the Dog. 

The Dog on the Trap Line 
Sledge Dogs of the North 


Part IV — The Hunting Dog Family. 

American Fox Hound 24. 

The Beagle Dachshund 

and Basset Hound 25. 

Pointers and Setters — 

Spaniels 26. 

Terriers — Airedales 

Scotch Collies, House and 
Watch Dogs 

A Farmer Hunter — His 

Descriptive Table of Tech- 
nical Terms 

The contents show the scope of this book and if you are at 
all interested in hunting dogs, you should have this work. The 
book is made up not only from the author's observation and 
experience, but that of scores of successful night as well as 
daylight hunters. This book will not interest the field trial 
dog men but is for the real dog men who delight in chases 
that are genuine. Price, Cloth-bound, postpaid, $1.00 

A. R. HARDING, Pub., 106 Walnut St., ST. LOUIS, MO. 

Bee Hunting 

HUNTERS. Tells How to I/lne Bees to Trees, Etc. 

The following is taken from the Author's 
Introduction to BEE HUNTING 

MANY books on sports of various 
kinds have been written, but 
outside of an occasional article 
in periodicals devoted to bee litera- 
ture, but little has been written on 
thesubject of Bee Hunting. There- 
fore, I have tried In this volume — 
Bee Hunting for Pleasure and Profit 
— to give • work in compact form, 
the product of what I have learned 
along* this line during the forty 
years in nature's school room. 

Brother, if in reading these pages, 
you find something that will be of 
value to you, something that will 
inculcate a desire for manly pastime 
and make your life brighter, then 
my aim will have been reached. 

The book contains 13 chapters as follows : 

I. Bee Hunting. 

II, E*rly Spring Hunting. 

III. Bee Watering— How to Find Them. 

IV. Hunting Bees from Sumac. 

v. Hunting Bees from Buckwheat. 

VI. Fall Hunting. 

VII. Improved Mode of Burning. 

VIII. Fact* About I,ine of Flight. 

IX. Baits and Scents. 

X. Cutting the Tree and Transferring. 

XI. Customs and Ownership of Wild Bees. 

XII. Benefactors and Their Inventions. 

XIII. Bee Keeping for Profit. 

This book contains 80 pages, paper cover. 
Price, postpaid, only 30 cents. 

A. R. HARDING, Publisher, 106 Walnut St., ST. LOUIS, MO. 

Fur Buyers' 


Contains Complete Instructions about Buylne, Handling and Grading Furs, Including Size, Coltr. Qullty 
as well as How, Wlien and Where to Sell. 
Tlie chapter headings give a vcrj' good idea of this valuable book 
yet to further explain take the chapter on Mink (XIII.) which goes 
into detail as follows: Sizes of Stretching Boards; Shape of Cured 
Skins; Shades of Color and Degrees of Prime- 
ness; Selling at Home; Preparing and Ship- 
I ping to Market. Each of the fur animals are 
described much the same as mink. The various 
shades of black, silver and cross fox are de- 
scribed and illustrated as well as the mark- 
ings on skunk shown and each of the four 
I grades illustrated and fully described. Weasel 
(ermine) are shown in the white stage also 
I when turning. Raccoon, muskrat, opossum, 
red and grey foxes, wolves, otter, beaver, bear, 
badger, marten, lynx, fisher, wild cat, civet 
I cat, house icat are all illustrated and fully ue- 
-scribed as well as a chapter on Sheep Pelts, 
Beef Hides, and Deer Skins and another on 
Ginseng and (rolden Seal. 

Mucn attention is given to GRADE, 

COLOR, OUALITY as well as sizes— LARGE, 

iMEDIUMT small. More than 160 illustra- 

^ tions are used showing raw furs from all 

parts of North America with measurements 

and grade. It also tells WHEN to BUY and WHERE, WHEN and 

HOW to SELL. This information is of much value to all whether a 

trapper who .sells a few skins only or buyer, collector, dealer. 

This valuable book contains Thirty-five chapters as follows: 

I. "Wild" and "Tame" Furs. XXI. Beaver and How to Grade. 

II. Size, Color, Quality. XXII. Bears— Black, Grizzly, Po- 

III. Methods of Grading, 

IV. The Inspection Room. 

V. Why Trappers Sell at 
VI. Buyers and Collectors. 
VII. Buying and Selling. 
VIII. Speculation. 
IX. Prices of Long Ago. 
X. Miscellaneous Information. 
XL Foxes — Black, Silver, 

Cross, and How to Grade. 

XII. Foxes— Red, Gray, Kitt or 

Swift and How to Grade. 

XIII. Mink and How to Grade. 

XIV. Muskrat — How to Grade. 
XV. Skunk and How to Grade. 

XVL Civet Cat — How to Grade. 

XVII. Raccoon and How to Grade. 

XV^III. Opossum — How to Grade. 

XIX. Wolves and Coyotes and 

How to Grade. 

lar and How to Grade. 

XXIII. Marten and How to Grade. 

XXIV. Fisher and How to Grade. 
XXV. Lynx and How to Grade. 

XXVI. Wild Cat or Bay Lynx 
and How to Grade. 
XXVII. Cats— House and Ring 

Tail and How to Grade. 
XX\'III. Badger and How to Grade. 
XXIX. Wolverine — How to Grade. 
XXX. White Weasel (ermine) 
and How to Grade. 
XXXI. Sea Otter— How to Grade. 
XXXII. Mountain Lion and How 
to Grade. 

XXXIII. Seals— Fur and Hair— and 
How to Grade. 

XXXIV. Pelts, Hides, Skins and 
How to Grade. 

XXXV. Roots — Ginseng and Gold- 
en Seal — How to Classify. 

XX. Otter and How to Grade. 

If you handle Raw Furs, Hides, Pelts or Roots it will be to your 
advantage (cash in your pocket) to order at once for FUR BlIYERS' 
GUIDE contains many valuable suggestions learned from long ex- 
perience, that the "other fellow" may get onto before you so better 
send today. This book weighs nearly 3 pounds, contains 370 pages, 
160 illustrations and cos't me thou.sands of dollars to print. 

Price, postpaid, cloth bound, to any address, $2.00 

A. R. HARDING, Pub., 106 Walnut St., ST. LOUIS, MO. 

University of Toronto